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(adapted from Friedrich Wolf) 

(with Michael Gold) 



The Life of Carlson of the Raiders 

Evans F. Carlson 
Recuperating from Saipan wounds. La Jolla, California, October 



The Life of 
Carlson of the Raiders 


With Illustrations 







Published March 1947 



His church and his country 
owe him a greater debt 
than they 



1. Prologue 3 

2. Prepared ... for defeats 4 

3. Seven faces 6 

4. "Who the hell was Carlson?" 9 

5. Of dreams and plans 13 

6. "The Star-Spangled Banner" ... at three o'clock in the 

afternoon 18 

7. "That day in China . . ." 20 

8. "It was never finished" 26 

9. By touch and feel 27 

10. "... the softness of Americans . . ." 33 

11. Clenched tightly in a Japanese fist 39 

12. "The spiritual low point" 54 

13. Who followed my father . . . ? 62 

14. At school the day before Thanksgiving 70 

15. Who is this man? 75 


1. The horn of God 77 

2. "Good marks for lightning" 82 

3. All of his best friends ... 84 

4. His foot in his hand 91 

5. Winding through corridors 95 


6. "I've neglected you" 101 

7. On the map of California 106 

8. "I shall go up!" 114 


1. The shores of an idea 123 

2. Beyond the seas 132 

3. That bloody Shanghai night 135 

4. Men who are loyal and incorruptible 145 

5. An eagerness for battle 156 

6. High-toned bull sessions 166 

7. "B for my work" 170 


1. Red poppy 175 

2. A patch of America on a dead city 188 

3. Among the heathen 195 

4. "Silent Night" 204 

5. If a man has only legs 212 

6. Before I die 224 

7. John did baptize . . . 232 

8. The growing guilt 242 

9. "You'll starve to death!" 249 

10. Salt-and-pepper tweed 264 

11. The shadow of his home 273 

12. Jen jen wei wo, wo wei jen jcn 280 

13. "This is no drill" 285 



1. The Raiders tell their story 293 

2. "Throw away your boots and knives . . ." 308 

3. Men under stress 323 

4. "My mission is still not completed" 331 

5. "Gon-Hoe" 341 

6. December distaste 349 

7. "Who is this man?" we asked 357 


1. Address 363 

2. Speech 368 

3. Commendation 369 

Acknowledgments 371 

Index 375 


Evans F. Carlson Frontispiece 

A Gung Ho meeting in the rear of Battalion Headquarters at 

Camp Catlin, Oahu 36 

Carlson jauntily coming ashore at Pearl Harbor 36 

A strategy session on the Upper Tenaru River, Guadalcanal 70 

Some of the Raiders aboard the U.S.S. Nautilus 70 

Tom, Evans, the Reverend Thomas A. and Karen Carlson at 

the Carlson home 156 

At Wu T'ai Shan with the Ta Lama 230 

Carlson entering notes in his diary at Taierchwang 230 

Carlson with his son, Evans, now Captain USMC 290 

Captain (now Commodore) Morton D. Wilcutts (MC) USN, 
Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Carlson and Colonel James 

Roosevelt 290 

Aboard the U.S.S. Curtiss with Secretary of the Navy Frank 

Knox and Admiral of the Navy Chester W. Nimitz 308 

Carlson with his wife, Peggy, taken at Universal Studios 358 


The Life of Carlson of the Raiders 

Part One 


It is a little like a good mystery story. You come on a man at fifty 
who has spent thirty-four years in the armed services and he has 
done certain things. You wonder at them and you wonder at his 
life and you ask : how did this come to be ? 

Many disconnected opinions face you all at once. Someone who 
had known him twenty years ago says: "He was ruthless; ambitious. 
All he wanted was to get ahead." 

And then you read a report written for the War Department by 
a man who was trained to judge people accurately. "He made the 
observer . . . feel small in the constant self-comparison which goes 
on when one listens to a man like Carlson. Whereas the observer 
shows high interest in the concerns of self, family and friends in a 
limited section of society, Carlson seems to have a quite strong 
identification with segments at all levels of society but particularly 
with the ill-fed, ill-housed third." x 

Is it the same man? you ask; or have the years made the dif- 
ference? And, if so, how? 

Where are the clues, what is the connection in our times be- 
tween Peacham, Vermont, and Yenan in North China? Between 
the William Lloyd Garrison statue on Commonwealth Avenue in 

1 From the 1944 report of Professor John Bollard of the Yale Institute 
of Human Relations, onetime consultant on morale for the War Depart- 


Boston and a Nicaraguan patriot named Augusto Sandino? Be- 
tween a widow who ran a grocery store in Portland, Maine, a 
Brooklyn boy, Vic Cassara, a journalist from the University of 
Missouri and Chiang Kai-shek? 

Is it possible, we ask, for a man to get to know who his brothers 
are, if he tries hard for thirty years? 

Where does Ralph Waldo Emerson fit into an American sub- 
marine called the U.S.S. Nautilus a half day out of Japanese-held 
Makin Island on August 16, 1942? 

It's a little like a good mystery. 


Prepared . . . for defeats 

On August 9, 1942, two days after Marines of the First Division 
landed on Guadalcanal, a task group consisting of the submarines 
U.S.S. Argonaut and U.S.S. Nautilus slipped from their base in 
Pearl Harbor and headed west toward Makin atoll in the Gilbert 
Islands, 2500 miles and eight days away. On the subs were 215 men 
of the Second Raider Battalion, on their way to make a hit-and-run 
raid on Japanese-held territory, the first by Americans in the war. 
Their commander was Evans Carlson, son of a Connecticut Con- 
gregationalist minister; their executive officer, James Roosevelt, a 
son of the President of the United States. 

Eight days later, in the dawn of August 17, they surprised the 
enemy by landing on a beach the enemy thought could not be 
landed on. In the next forty hours they killed the entire enemy 
garrison of 300, destroyed two small transports, two radio stations, 
two seaplanes, set the torch to 1000 barrels of aviation gasoline, re- 
fined by an American company, and burned and leveled all operat- 
ing military installations. Thirty Raiders were lost. 


In the United States, prepared since Pearl Harbor for defeats, the 
news of the Makin Raid stirred the hearts of the people. 

The New Yor{ Times ran a half-page of pictures and a seven- 
column story. Time gave the story a page and a half, ending its ac- 
count with a stanza of "Carlson's Raiders" to the tune of "Abdul 
the Bulbul Amir": 

They will sing of the sailor and soldier I know 

And tell of the deeds that were done, 
But Carlson's Raiders will sing for themselves 

And know how the battle was won. 2 

The New Yor^ Herald Tribune had a lead editorial, "Carlson 
of the Raiders": 

. . . those who knew him well will readily understand why 
he was chosen to lead the landing party on Makin and why 
he did such a thorough job and why the Marines sing about 
him. 3 

Eleanor Roosevelt in "My Day" wrote : 

I am deeply grateful that our son came through alive, but 
some did not. . . . 

Somehow I cannot free myself of a heavy heart which must 
keep companionship with the hearts of other men and women 
in our country and in other countries all over the world. With 
it goes a tremendous sense of the responsibility which must be 
carried by the older generation for the world we now face. 4 

And in the mail columns of the Hartford Courant was a letter 
headed "A Host of Heroes": 


Your kind and discerning thought in sending the photograph 
of my son, Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson, is deeply appreciated. 
We are naturally proud of the achievement, though a bit 
stunned by the wild publicity it has elicited. 

2 Time, Sept. 7, 1942. 

3 New Yor^ Herald Tribune, August 29, 1942. 

4 United Feature Syndicate, August 24, 1942. 


What a great host of heroes we have, not only on that front 
but on every front. And thank God, it is not the courage of 
fatalism, but of a sound faith in what we preachers call, right- 
eousness, in plain words, in an order of common sense and good 
will. Let us all pray God that politicians and self-interested 
poltroons do not wreck the order for which our fighting men 
are paying such a glorious price. 

Plymouth, Connecticut 5 

When the news of the Makin Raid came the hearts of the 
American people were lightened. The first completed action in the 
war against the Japs had been a success. 


Seven faces 

And now the Raid was over. The submarines were speeding due 
east from Makin atoll toward Pearl Harbor. In hot, tiny wardrooms 
used as operating rooms, MacCracken and Stigler, navy doctors, 
were completing an unbroken twenty-four hours of cutting and 
putting together the torn parts of wounded men. Elsewhere on the 
ship, comrades of the wounded lay stripped and exhausted in their 
makeshift bunks watching, with an odd kind of pleasure, oily sweat 
pour down their sides. They were alive and they wanted to 
know it. 

In the wardroom of the Nautilus, now crowded with men, Evans 
Fordyce Carlson, a bony, blue-eyed man of forty-six with a heavily 
lined face and a long nose that looked granite, was sitting by him- 
self on a corner stool. He held a large white pad of paper on his 

5 Hartford Courant, Sept. 2, 1942. 


lap, and in the side pockets of his open dungaree jacket were 
rolled-up official documents. He concentrated on the pad and held 
his pencil loosely in his long, tobacco-stained fingers. His face was 
in a frown of sadness that ill befitted its strength. An unlit pipe 
jutted straight out from between his lips, and glistening sweat 
dropped from his broad forehead onto his cheeks. 

After a moment, he made a few scratches along the edge of the 
paper with his pencil; then wrote down the formal salutation of his 
battle report: 

From: The Commanding Officer, Second Marine Raider 


To: The Commander, Submarines, Pacific Fleet. 

Subject: Operations on Makin, August 17-18, 1942 

Carefully Carlson underlined the words. Then he took the docu- 
ments out of his pockets, glanced at them quickly, and, following 
the prescribed form, jotted down his References and Enclosures, 
and below them wrote in capital letters: NARRATIVE. 

The really hard part was now to begin. A thousand details and 
reflections fought for supremacy in his thoughts. He knew, of course, 
that he would have to begin with the beginning, but where was the 
beginning? Did the battle really start at five forty-five the morning 
of the seventeenth when the first enemy fire swept through his men, 
or did it start when he and his men had landed on the beach ? How 
can battles faithfully be reported as commencing on a moment 
of time? 

Suddenly into his thoughts burst the full essence of the sadness 
he had felt earlier, and he realized how much he had been putting 
down in himself. 

He wiped his face and his long firm nose of sweat, and closed his 
eyes for a moment. The sub's engines beat a drum through the ship. 
At the chow tables, glasses and silverware made little homelike 
noises, and there were small sounds of men talking and laughing. 

He would like to start his report with this: Total Japanese casual- 
ties 300. Total Raider casualties 30: eighteen by the enemy, five 
by their love of their comrades, and seven by stupidity, power, habit, 


prejudice. It was for these seven he felt sad. Their deaths were cruel 
because they were wasted. 

One by one seven faces moved across his mind. Some he re- 
membered better than others, a few he remembered little incidents 
about. He hoped that these seven dead would never be picked out 
by name from among the other casualties, for if they were, their 
families would be deprived of their last resource of consolation. 

After a minute, he turned his mind away from the faces, disliking 
the self-indulgence of sadness. He believed that compassion must 
never be idle or passive. 

He couldn't start his report with a statement of his casualties. 
The form required something else. His pad and pencil waited, and 
yet for reasons obscured he wrote nothing. He felt tired, depleted. 
Despite himself, he wanted to go elsewhere in his mind, to relax, 
to think back on other days. 

And now he remembered a February day, nine months before, 
when it had seemed to him that all the threads of his life up to 
that time had come together. 

It was on February 5, 1942, two months after Pearl Harbor, when 
Headquarters finally consented to establish a new kind of Marine 
Corps detachment a Raider Battalion with Evans Carlson as its 

On that day, Carlson wrote his father a long letter; and among 
other things he said: 

At last I have received a break. Today I was placed in com- 
mand of a special unit with carte blanche to organize, train 
and indoctrinate it as I see fit. There is nothing like it in exist- 
ence in the country. Naturally, I'm delighted. I will hand 
pick my personnel. Jimmy Roosevelt is to be my executive 
officer. . . . 

Things seem to be moving in a direction I have so long 
urged and had almost despaired of seeing materialize. But now 
I have been afforded the opportunity to practice some of the 
precepts I have been preaching these past years, 


"Who the hell was Carlson?" 

Word moves swiftly among men in jail or in a barracks. Word 
moved swiftly through the Marine Corps Base in San Diego, through 
the boot platoons and the regiments, and inland to Camp Elliot and 
up the coast to Camp Matthews. A new outfit was forming. Raiders 
or commandoes, rugged, suicide, the creme de la crime, the Marine 
of the Marines. You've got to have something on the ball to get in, 
men said. An officer named Carlson was going to be C.O. 

Who the hell, they asked, was Carlson? 

A few who knew had served with him in the Fourth Marines in 
Shanghai or in the Legation Guard in Peiping or in the Guardia 
National in Nicaragua or while training in Quantico. Some liked 
him; some didn't; some said he was square, and some said he did 
everything by the book and was too tough. A few didn't know him 
but had heard of him. They had read a book of his about China. 

When the men talked it over, some of them who were married 
and had children wanted no part of a suicide battalion. Others in 
the same situation wanted to get into the fight quick. There were 
a few who had fought against Fascism in Spain in the Abraham 
Lincoln Battalion. They were for volunteering. There were old- 
timers who had learned never to refuse an order, but never to 
volunteer, and there were other old-timers who asked: "What's the 
matter? You want to live forever?" 

In a tent at Camp Elliot, a young boy from Chicago took out a 
brand-new fountain pen and a sheet of Marine Corps stationery 
he had just bought at the PX, and wrote a letter home. 


I just heard they are organizing, or as we Marines say, 
activating a new battalion like the British Commandoes. I'd 


like to volunteer. Please write me right away (or wire me) 
saying it's OK. I'm going to wait until I hear from you. . . . 

In one platoon, fourteen volunteered in the afternoon and were 
given until the next morning to think it over, and only six came 
forth from the ranks in the morning. In another platoon, five men 
volunteered at first, and when they heard the sergeant warn them 
that Carlson's new outfit would be so tough that only real Marines 
could stand the gaff, the five remained in their places, and the rest 
of the platoon joined them. 

Among the volunteers were old-timers and newly fledged boots, 
school boys and college athletes, forest rangers, ranchers, policemen, 
a preacher and a gardener from Beverly Hills; Sam Rodger Brown, 
an American Indian from Oklahoma; Victor Maghakian, called 
"Transport," a Fresno Armenian; Jack Miller from a Jewish home 
in Texas; Ken Merrill out of Arizona; Hermanek from Chicago; 
Thomason from Atlanta; Le Francois, Nelson, Peatross, Plumley, 
Lamb, Wygal, Jolly, Sebock, Craven. . . . 

The volunteers were called for an interview; some by Carlson, 
some by Roosevelt, others by officers Carlson trusted. 

"Carlson's eyes were stern. They made me feel like my preacher 
was looking at me," Private Al Flores said. "And yet he looked 
tough and hard-boiled like a typical, by-the-book Marine officer. 
Of course, after a minute or so he smiled and I felt a little easier. 
He had a helluva good smile. You felt he wasn't putting it on, 
but was really friendly." 

With brown tobacco-stained fingers Carlson offered them cig- 
arettes and asked what their names were and where they came 
from and what they had done in civilian life. And if he knew their 
part of the country, he would take a few minutes and talk about it. 
But, finally, when a rapport had been reached and the major's 
gold oak leaves on his shirt had retreated to their proper size, the 
interview began. 

His voice was serious and his blue eyes searched out the face 


in front of him. "Why do you want to join the Raiders?" he asked, 
and waited anxiously for the reply. 

"We want to fight, sir," they replied. Or, "We want to get over- 
seas and come back quickly." Or, "We'd like to join a commando 

He frowned at the answers, and asked his question a different 
way. "Why do you want to fight? What's the war about? What're 
we fighting for?" 

Answers came to him in the patchwork of America; halting, un- 
certain, self-conscious, confused, but with good instincts. The men 
wanted revenge for Pearl Harbor. They wanted to teach the Japs a 
lesson. Only a few said something about democracy or Fascism or 

In a sense, it was what he expected, though he hoped for more. 
But these answers were not enough. He must try to get behind 
them, into the mind. He must find out what they held dear enough 
to die for. 

He dogged them with more questions: "What do you think of 
America? Why do you hate militarism? Do you think we ought 
to exterminate all the Japs?" 

He had to know what they believed in. It was more important 
to him than his life, for it would mean his life and theirs. 

"I won't take a man who doesn't give a damn about anything," 
he told Jimmy Roosevelt. "But if he has a deep feeling about want- 
ing to fight, even for the wrong reasons, take him. I know I can 
shape him into wanting to fight for the right reasons." 

Carlson never lacked confidence in himself when it came to men 
and things. 

More questions: 

"Why do you want to fight?" 

"Because the war is righteous," a boy from New York replied 
with a fire that matched his own. "It's the will of God." 

"Because we have no choice. But we've got to see that it don't 
happen again or else . . ." 

"Because the Japs attacked. . . ." 


Those who didn't care or who wanted only adventure or were 
too old or had personal burdens that worried them, he thanked 
with kindness and let go. And for the others who believed in 
something, he had more questions. 

"Can you cut a Jap's throat without flinching? . . . Can you 
choke him to death without puking? Are you willing to starve and 
suffer and go without food and sleep?" 

And then he'd stand up, his six feet of strength and leanness 
towering high, his thin, New England face stern. "I promise you 
nothing but hardships and danger," he said. And if he sounded 
to them like doom speaking, that was the way he wanted it. 

"When we get into battle, we ask no mercy, we give none." 

Old John Brown had once said the same thing to his own sons. 

Carlson tried everything he knew to frighten these volunteers. 
He felt he owed them something: a glimpse into the future, a 
chance to change their minds. 

He wanted more. He wanted to know whether these men had 
confidence in their ability to do anything they willed to do. 

"Can you walk fifty miles a day?" he would ask. 

"I don't know, sir," they'd answer. "I never have. But I thinly 
I can." 

"Not thinJ^r he'd reply. "Do you want to? Do you know you 

Three thousand men volunteered. Roughly, two-thirds were ac- 
ceptable, but only a thousand could be chosen according to Head- 
quarters' Table of Organization. 

One idea of Carlson's had so far been tested and found true. 
"Most Americans have deep and important convictions about 
something," he said. And then, after the long days of interviewing 
were over, he added: "Though, Lord knows, you have to drag it 
out of 'em." 


Of dreams and plans 

There was a lot more to do than getting a thousand men. It 
was a time of ordering up a new world with no seventh day of rest. 
A new theory of action had to be created, for the Raiders could not 
be like any other battalion. 

Carlson's tired little office at Camp Elliot, California, smoky and 
bitter with a day's cigarettes and pipes, littered with manuals and 
mimeographed regulations, books and maps and old magazines and 
clothes and a sagging cot, became a general staff headquarters for 
the exchange of dreams and plans. 

Tall, modest Captain Jimmy Roosevelt was there, and stocky 
First Sergeant Charlie Lamb from Snowhill, North Carolina, and 
Peatross and Davis and Plumley. They met at odd hours during 
the day and long hours at night. 

The world outside was full of defeats; Hong Kong, Wake, Guam, 
Manila had fallen. The Japs were moving through Malaya toward 
Singapore and no one could stop them. Burma was threatened; 
Alaska, Hawaii, California and Oregon were threatened. 

"I expect to wake up any morning," someone said, "to find a Jap 
under my sack." 

They laughed bitterly. 

Carlson put a cigarette in his mouth and lit it. "We've got to get 
to work figuring how we're going to organize and train," he said. 

"The battalion or the world?" Roosevelt asked with a grin. 

"First things first," Carlson replied. 

"We've got the regulation Table of Organization," Lamb said. 

"I know," Carlson said, blowing a stream of smoke through his 
lips. "But I don't want to take it just because it's regulation. The 
mission of a military unit should determine its form." 


Someone picked up a copy of the orders activating the Raiders 
and read from it. "Its mission is to engage in hit-and-run raids, to 
spearhead amphibious landings, and to operate as guerrillas behind 
enemy lines." 

A voice drawled out of a dark corner of the room, "Anybody 
here think that can be achieved by a regulation battalion?" 

The silence was his answer. 

"The Japs are doing pretty good," the drawling voice remarked. 

"Let's start with the Japs," Carlson said. He made an analysis of 
Japanese military tactics and showed how they were succeeding by 
the methods of flanking and infiltration. Too many British and 
American commanders were at a loss as to how to combat these 
tactics because they were trail-bound. They put too much faith in 
solid fronts, heavy artillery and unbroken communications. 

"I've seen the Japs at work," he said. "Their flanking and infiltra- 
tion tactics are good. But they've got a couple of important weak- 
nesses and we've got to take advantage of 'em. The Japs don't have 
much fire-power in their infiltrating groups. And, secondly, Jap 
commanders are so confident that their infiltrating troops will break 
through that they never provide enough security for their own 
camps and flanks and supply depots." 

"If we can outflank 'cm ..." a voice started. 

"And counterinfiltrate with heavier fire-power," someone else 

"You've got something!'* a third man concluded. 

"But we're a light infantry outfit," came an objection. 

"Exactly," Carlson said. "To carry out our mission we've got to 
have mobility and flexibility and heavy fire-power without sacri- 
ficing either." 

First Lieutenant Davis rose from his chair excitedly. "We've got 
to figure out how to strike with a small number of men and give 
them the strength of weapons of a large number of men." 

"What about our nine-man squad?" someone asked. 

"Yeah but the regulation table only gives 'em eight rifles and 
one automatic a Browning." 

"We need more than that." 


"Sure but how and where?" 

"Doesn't it come down to this?" Carlson asked. "How can we 
use the conventional nine-man rifle squad in jungle and night war- 
fare and yet maintain control of it?" 

There was a silence that followed, each man creating ideas within 
himself, matching his wits and experience against the problem. Some- 
where outside the room, beyond the sea that ranged against 
near-by San Diego, comrades of these men were falling back to 
Bataan, sick and outnumbered, helpless against the jungle and 
the enemy who was using the jungle as a weapon. Marines and 
soldiers were being cut down from behind by Jap sniper squads 
moving easily through our lines to blot out stragglers, to blow up am- 
munition dumps, to surprise command posts and disrupt lines of 

Someone in the room, thinking out loud, went over the regula- 
tion weapon strength of the regulation squad. ''They've got eight 
rifles and one BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle)," he murmured. 
"Couldn't we add a couple more automatic weapons? Like another 
BAR or so?" 

"How about a Tommy gun?" Lamb said. 

Carlson straightened out in his chair and lit a cigarette from 
the glowing end of one he was finishing; then he ran his fingers 
through his close-cut hair. "Good!" he said softly. "We've got a 
nine-man squad now. Suppose we add a tenth man as squad leader. 
Then suppose we break up the nine-man squad into three groups 
of three men each." His forehead wrinkled as he tried to visualize 
all the possibilities. 

"And how do we arm the three men?" someone blurted out. 

"With a BAR, a Tommy gun, and an M-i," Carlson replied. 

A long drawn out whistle came from the dark corner. "That's 
real fire-power," the men said. "Two automatics and a Garand!" 
He whistled again. 

"Three men would have more fire-power than a whole squad 
did before," Roosevelt said. 

And then everybody began talking at once and the idea flourished. 
"Let's call 'em fire teams or groups," Lamb said, or Peatross maybe, 


or Davis. No one remembered who said what at this point. 

"The fire team has a thousand advantages. Small, mobile, flexible. 
Wherever a squad is used as a patrol or as security or as flankers, 
we use one of these teams/' 

"Wonderful for counter infiltration!" 

"In jungle fighting, you need small groups with lots of auto- 
matic weapons!" 

"It's like multiplying each man by three." 

"And it gives each man a chance to develop into a leader," Carlson 
said. "They'll live and work and train together. They'll get to know 
each other. They'll rely on each other, have confidence. They'll learn 
each other's weapons. It'll help 'em improvise in combat." He stood 
up, dodging the hanging lightbulb over him. "I think we've got 
something, boys." 

"The Japs'll wish we hadn't thought of it," Davis said and they 

"Yeah," the drawling voice remarked from the corner. "But 
what about Headquarters?" 


"They've got to authorize the change, okay the additional weapons, 
and give us the right to promote our men to the ratings which 
they'll deserve as fire-team leaders," Roosevelt said. 

Carlson was silent, clouding his face with cigarette smoke. "Let's 
get all this down in writing," he said finally. "We'll put through 
the request pronto and see where we stand." 

The request went through channels and the reply came back 
through channels. Washington said "No!" The Tables of Organiza- 
tion and of Basic Allowances would not be changed. 

Broken into its pieces, the "No" meant "Who the hell does 
Carlson think he is? ... If he wants his Raiders let him work the 
way the rest of the Marine Corps works . . . Besides, the damned 
fire teams won't work!" 

The general staff of dreams and plans at temporary Raider head- 
quarters at Camp Elliot which had, in the interval, worked out the 
details of the fire team with increasing conviction of its great worth, 
felt as if their own Corregidor had been taken. They cursed Head- 


quarters from bumper to bumper. Hotly, they talked of everything 
but outright mutiny. 

But Carlson refused to give up. "Let's rewrite our request, saying 
the same things in different words. Let's use pressure through any- 
one we know. Let's pull strings. If we believe that the fire team will 
save lives and do our job, by God, let's don't stop at anything!" 

They wrote memoranda through channels and outside of chan- 
nels; they made trips at their own expense to Washington; they 
did everything that men driven by the strength of righteousness 
could do. And, finally, Headquarters spoke again. 

"You will have to keep your present Tables of Organization and 
Basic Allowances," was said in essence. "But you can organize as 
you wish within the aggregate limits set by the Tables. We will 
even authorize the quartermaster to give you additional weapons 
providing he has them." 

The jubilation at success was deadened only by this that Carl- 
son could not give promotions to men not authorized in the regula- 
tion battalions. Not one corporal or sergeant could be made re- 
gardless of what tasks he might be called on to do. 

But the fire-team idea was saved, and it saved lives and killed 
the enemy, and to this day it has not been forgotten. 

A time came after Makin and Guadalcanal when Carlson, burning 
with malaria, depressed that his Raiders had been taken away from 
him and he would never lead them again, heartsick at being "pro- 
moted" to a staff job to deprive him of direct command of men, 
received official word that not only the Marine Corps but the Army 
as well had revised its Tables of Organization and Basic Allow- 
ances to incorporate, with one slight change, the fire team and 
other innovations 6 which had had their start in the grubby Camp 
Elliot headquarters of the general staff of dreams and plans. 

The fire team had become regulation. Headquarters does learn 
after all. 

6 These innovations were: (i) making the weapons platoon an integral 
part of the rifle company; (2) greater use of radio for control within 
and between small tactical units. 


But he was not half as elated as the hundreds of letters from his 
men which told him how they had used the fire team in other out- 
fits, and how it had saved lives and achieved objectives, and that 
through this they whom he had not been able to promote as their 
work and efforts deserved had won, in the Diaspora of other bat- 
talions, their rightful ratings and commissions by the uncompromis- 
ing selection board of battle. 


"The Star-Spangled Banner" . . . at three o'clock 
in the afternoon 

February is the rainy season in California. Aleutian winds sweep 
the Pacific, piling up thunderheads, bringing rains that surfeit the 
parched lands. 

In a wet muddy clearing surrounded by tall bitter-smelling 
eucalyptus trees at Jacques Farm, Camp Elliot, near San Diego, 
free for the moment from the downpour, a thousand men waited for 
the first speech by their commanding officer. They stood in their 
green uniforms a little stiffly and self-consciously, for they were 
volunteers and that gave them a slight swagger in the spirit and an 
uncertainty in the bones. Most of them had come from their inter- 
views with an excitement tinged with an honest American skepti- 
cism. Carlson and Roosevelt had talked big. 

There were a few among the thousand men who waited, but 
neither with excitement nor skepticism. They had an obscured and 
indefinable anger which they felt without understanding. Carlson 
had given them a choice where one decision might mean death, 
and another the loss of the right to live with themselves. 


"Here he comes/' someone in the front ranks murmured, and 
they all straightened up as if to brace themselves. A diffuse lemon 
sunlight warmed the air. 

A jeep drove up from a back road near by and men got out of it 
carrying a portable loudspeaker set. In a few minutes, a microphone 
was connected with an amplifier and placed on top of a platform 
made from three ration crates. An enlisted communications man 
stepped to the mike, and asked if the fellows could hear him. They 
said they could. 

A second jeep rolled in from the road, and Sergeant Major Charlie 
Lamb took a deep breath and shouted, "Attention!" Most of the 
men were at attention already. Carlson jumped down from the 
jeep and walked toward the platform. He was dressed in work 

At the mike, he said in a relaxed and quiet way, "As you were, 
boys." Then he motioned them closer. "Come on up here. Let's get 

The men broke ranks, moved forward across the muddy earth 
and crowded around him. He recognized some of them from the 
interviews and smiled and waved his hand. When they were as 
close to him as they could get he waited a moment, then he reached 
into his back pocket and took out a small harmonica, tapped it 
several times against his palm, put it to his lips and blew a C. 

"The first thing we're going to do," he said, "is to sing our National 

His voice reached out in a warm, full tone. "O say, can you 
see . . ." 

At first, his men followed him weakly, faltering. But slowly the 
song built strong and high, and a hundred yards away on the back 
road a 4 X 4 Recon truck stopped. Two Marines got out and, ac- 
cording to regulations, stood at salute, their faces showing con- 
fusion at hearing "The Star-Spangled Banner" coming from a dis- 
tant eucalyptus grove at three o'clock in the afternoon. 


"That day in China 


Most of the thirty years of his military life as enlisted man and 
officer, Carlson had felt deeply the lack of communication between 
the commander and the men he led. He had evolved theories about 
it over the years, some good and some bad. But now, as he faced 
his men, he was certain that he had the answer. 

He touched the microphone in front of him and began to talk 
through it. 

"Boys, this mike and loudspeaker are the first things we asked 
the quartermaster for. We wanted it because we can use it to talk 
to each other directly. Me to you; you to me and to the rest. This 
mike is open for gripes and criticism." He smiled broadly. "You can 
say what you think about anyone officers and yours truly in- 
cluded. And about the way we're doing things. Just so that you're 
honest about it and that it's something which'll benefit the rest 
of us." 

He looked down at his men, hoping that they would believe 
him, for he knew that at first they would doubt the possibility of 
freedom of speech in a military organization. 

In the silence, raindrops pattered softly from the eucalyptus leaves. 
The men waited, listening on the tips of their minds, a little uneasy. 
The mike, the "Star-Spangled Banner," a C.O. with a harmonica, 
free speech ... It was like walking into the wrong church. 

Then he began to talk again, with none of the tricks of oratory, 
the change of pace or volume or pause for effect. Frequently, he 
gestured broadly with his two hands in parallel movement, an un- 
conscious imitation of his preacher-father. He did not try to make 
his words simpler than was his custom, nor more impressive. He 
genuinely believed that although some of the men might not under- 
stand every word he used his vocabulary was rather extensive and 

"THAT DAY IN CHINA . . ." 21 

occasionally highfalutin they would get the gist and the spirit. 
But his words had a glow to them, and as he talked his lean face 
was illumined like a man with a dream in his head. 

He told them that they all lived in a democratic country, and it 
was a contradiction for such a country to have an armed force that 
was dictatorial and undemocratic. Their battalion, the Raiders, 
would have none of it. The Prussian system of discipline which still 
influenced much American military thinking would not be tolerated. 
Yet, of course, there would be discipline. "But based on knowledge 
and reason and not blind obedience. It's yours to reason why. In 
a democracy, men must be thinking human beings, not puppets." 

Further, there would be no caste differences in the Raiders. 
Officers would be leaders by ability and knowledge and character 
and not because they held the President's commission. They would 
give no unnecessary orders; they would not order a man to do what 
they themselves were not prepared to do with him; they would 
have no special mess or barracks or club. And there would be no 
unnecessary saluting. 

"We'll live as you live; work as you work; eat as you eat; fight 
as you fight. We give up all our privileges cheerfully and willingly." 

The ranks stirred like spring wheat in a breeze. They had just 
heard what seemed to them to be a violation of everything they 
had been told was the tradition of a thousand years of military life. 
Those words challenged the threats of their instructors at boot 
camp; the benevolent-despotic talks of old-time senior officers; the 
inbred legend and protocol of the Academies. 

The enlisted men and junior officers fresh from Quantico and 
civilian life listened with singing hearts, their skepticism, for the 
moment, pinched away by a stirring hope that maybe what the Old 
Man was saying would actually be put into practice. A few old- 
timers thought the words sounded good but didn't believe Carlson 
stood a chance in hell. How could he change human nature? The 
Old Man had gotten some fancy ideas from somewhere. Well, he'd 
get over them. 

A low-flying flight of planes from North Island came over, and 


as Carlson waited he wondered what the men were thinking. Were 
they believing him ? If he could only, in an instant, project them all 
into the future to prove that he meant what he was saying. 

The flight of planes arched into the horizon. 

Carlson went on to describe what their training would be like. 
They would be hardened to march fifty miles a day without food or 
rest. They would learn to go without water and to get along with a 
few handfuls of rice. "A time will come when our only food will 
be what we take off the bodies of dead Japs." Day and night jungle 
fighting would be learned : patrolling, swimming, rubber boats, knife 
work, judo, marksmanship "with every kind of weapon from 
every conceivable position." Each man and officer would be required 
to carry his rifle with him at all times while in camp. To sleep with 
it, eat with it; to take it apart until he could put it together blind- 

"Without this kind of hardening and training," he said, "we 
might lose five men instead of one." 

What did he mean by constant training? Well, he meant that 
there would be mighty few hours a week when they wouldn't be on 
the go. Little liberty and less leave would be their lot. Even emer- 
gency leave. And what did he mean by hardening? Well, in addi- 
tion to their hiking and physical conditioning, all men and officers 
would sleep on the tent decks; no sacks except in the sick bay; chow 
would be the kind they'd have in the field. Of course, an occasional 
traveling PX would come by; an occasional movie maybe; but most 
of their recreation would be sports, baseball, basketball, volleyball. 
Recreation that strengthened them. 

And again he warned them as he had warned them before in 
their interviews. "The Jap is a wily and rugged enemy, experienced 
in hardships. And so I can promise you nothing but the toughest 
life while we're in the States and the toughest battles when we're 

Now, his talk took a different turn. He seemed to the men sud- 
denly to become less stern, almost less driven. His tall, gaunt body 
leaned forward. He admitted that what he was asking of them and 
of himself would not be easy. It required even more than physical 

"THAT DAY IN CHINA . . ." 23 

stamina or the discipline which comes from mutual respect and 
understanding. The Raider Battalion needed a spirit, something 
that would make bearable all the hardships to come. 

He told them a story, a part of his life. . . . 

"In 1937," he began, u when I was in China with the Fourth 
Marines, Admiral Harry Yarnell, at that time Commander-in-Chief 
of our Asiatic Fleet, assigned me to Naval Intelligence and ordered 
me to make a study of how the Chinese armies were fighting the 
Japs. I watched the Chinese around Shanghai for awhile, and then 
I heard of another Chinese force up in the North. It was called the 
Eighth Route Army. I heard they were very successful and that 
they had worked out a new kind of battle strategy and guerrilla 
warfare. I was also told that they had a different kind of army 
organization. And so I went up to join them. From then on I had a 
lot of experiences with the Eighth Route Army, and I'll probably 
be telling you quite a few of them as time goes on. But there's one 
I want to tell you now. . . ." 

... It was morning and he was with the Eighth Route Army 
about 600 of them on a forced march in Shansi Province, with 
orders to head off a Japanese column. The terrain was the roughest 
he had ever seen: deep gorges, thick forests, swift and bitterly cold 
rivers. The days were blasphemous with cold. And through it they 
had marched steadily for twenty-four hours without rest, and had 
covered fifty-eight miles. Most of the way the Chinese soldiers had 
been singing but now the column was silent. Only the sounds of 
panting men and the ceaseless shuffle of sandals or bare feet against 
the rock and the earth could be heard. Every face in the morning 
light was marked with the stigmata of exhaustion bulging eyes, 
slack jaws, cracked and dried lips. 

To Carlson who marched with them, the fifty miles had been an 
accumulation of miracles. Not merely had men endured an enor- 
mous trial of strength but of the 600 who had started, not one had 
fallen by the way and dropped out. In his own country on maneu- 
vers, he had led men on marches of similar duration and intensity; 
in Nicaragua he had marched against the "bandits" and the going 


had been almost as strenuous. But there, as always, some few men 
had given up, had deserted or had surrendered to fatigue. 

He looked at the Chinese soldier next to him, watched his face, 
listened to him pant, and wondered what it was that made him 

Far ahead in the column they were beginning to sing again. The 
song moved down slowly like ripples on a mill pond. 

The soldier next to Carlson noticed that he was being studied 
and smiled. 

"A long march," he said in his own language. 

Carlson nodded. "Tired?" he asked, his breath hurting. 

"Tsan Tsan" the soldier said slowly between gasps. "If a man 
has only legs he gets tired." . . . 

"That day in China," Carlson said, "I saw in practice the secret 
of the Chinese Eighth Route Army. Two words 'ethical in- 
doctrination.' Those are big words, boys, but let me tell you simply 
what they mean. The reason those 600 men were able to endure 
such hardship was because they knew why it was necessary for them 
to complete that march. But more than that, they knew why that 
march was important to the whole series of battles they were fight- 
ing; and they knew why these battles were important to the whole 
war against the Japs. And the war against the Japs was one they 
understood and believed in. In short, they understood why the efforts 
of every single one of them was necessary for the victory of the 
whole Chinese people. That's ethical indoctrination. That's what 
you've got to have besides legs.' That's why 600 average Chinese 
men did what 600 average Americans might not have been able to 
do march fifty-eight miles in twenty-four hours without rest and 
without one man falling by the wayside." 

He explained carefully how out of ethical indoctrination men 
grow to have confidence in themselves and in their officers; how 
when every man knows his efforts count, whether officer or cook, 
general or quartermaster coolie, no one thinks of himself or his job 
as being more or less important than anyone else or anyone else's 
job; and each man has respect and confidence in himself and in the 

"THAT DAY IN CHINA . . ." 25 

others. Out of this mutual respect and confidence, comes the ability 
of men to work together wholeheartedly, without fear or favor or 
envy or contempt. 

He trembled a little inside him as he spoke, for if ethical in- 
doctrination was the key of the Raiders, it was also the star by which 
he finally had come to steer his own life. This battalion, these 
thousand men, was the test of himself. 

"The Chinese have two words for 'working together,' " he said. 
"Gung, meaning 'work'; Ho, meaning 'harmony.' Gung Hoi 'Work 
Together!' That is the end result of ethical indoctrination." 

He went on to explain that Gung Ho was important to all of 
them, because they were Americans for it gave them the chance 
to practice the democracy they believed, where no man should have 
privileges over another man and where discipline comes from 
knowledge. It was important because they were fighting men, and it 
would give them confidence in themselves and in their comrades 
a confidence that creates initiative and daring in battle. And that 
out of this would come greater damage to the enemy at lower cost 
in lives to themselves. 

'We will strive," he said, "for ethical indoctrination, and so I 
propose that Gung Ho be the spirit and the slogan of our Raider 

He paused and moved closer to the microphone. "It's a good 
slogan, boys. Let's hear you say it." He raised his voice and shouted, 
"Gung Ho!" 

There was a split-second silence in the ranks. Then the reply 
came, not in unison, for some men spoke or self-consciously whis- 
pered the phrase and some shouted it in a burst of elated apprecia- 
tion. But the words came, and the grove of eucalyptus trees in the 
middle of San Diego County heard a thousand voices say a strange 
and foreign phrase that, in the necessary coincidence of human his- 
tory, was as American as it was Chinese. 


"It was never finished" 

Professor John Dollard, in his study of Carlson and his Raiders, 
wrote: "Ethical indoctrination is concerned with achieving consent 
to the mechanisms of control, volition for the common ends, and 
arousing guilt concerning differential privilege." 

That was the sociologist's way of summing it up. 

Dr. Kurt Lewin of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 
director of its research in group dynamics, said of Carlson's Raiders 
that "they received their status by a high level of aspiration. 'We' 
thinking in battle reduces the sense of personal danger . . . and 
when the level of free expression goes up, leaders can demand more 
from their followers. The men were given moral stamina . . ." 

And that is the psychologist's way of analyzing the great experi- 

Carlson says: "In a military sense ethical indoctrination requires 
knowing the issues of the battle and the war, and believing in the 
justice of the cause for which a man fights. In order to be fully 
effective, however, ethical indoctrination requires a system of life 
in which men can believe a system where people, regardless of 
color, creed, or national origin, are equal before the law, and where 
none are exploited for the profit of others: in short, where there 
are no unearned privileges. 

"In part, we were able to create ethical indoctrination in the 
Raiders because the real promise of our country and our cause was 
worth fighting for. Without this real promise no amount of in- 
doctrination could long sustain the belief of men. 

"In the Raiders it was a long and hard job and we had to work 
at it every minute; it was never finished." 


By touch and feel 

The training was as hard as he had warned them it would be. 

In the thicketed high hills of the Camp Elliot boondocks, a sergeant 
from Atlanta, Georgia, Clyde Thomason, found a minute at chow 
time to write a quick note to his friends in the Atlanta office of the 
Fire Companies Adjustment Bureau. Claim adjusting was Clyde's 
first job found in 1939 when he was twenty-five, after he had 
graduated from high school, jalopied all over the forty-eight states 
and had one five-year hitch in the Marines. The boys and the 
office manager of the Atlanta office promised Clyde they'd keep his 
desk for him, and he in turn promised to write regularly and send 
them souvenirs from Tokyo. 

"We're bivouacked out in the mountains away from anywhere," 
he wrote late in February 1942. "There's been nothing but manual 
labor marching five, eight, ten miles and calisthenics to get into 
shape. Twice a week ... a thirty-five-mile hike, and once a week 
a seventy-mile overnight hike. We never ride. Every man will be a 
walking arsenal, including ... a knife which we are learning to 
throw. Hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. We all have 
crew haircuts. O, my beautiful waves!" 7 

A month later he wrote more about hikes and firing practice, 
close combat fighting, demolition work and rubber boat handling. 
"We're about to get rounded out into a pretty good outfit. And it 
wasn't over any smooth, straight highway . . ." 

Clyde Thomason and the other nine hundred and ninety-nine 
Raider men and officers learned the science of killing and the art of 
saving their own lives. Nothing was omitted. Patrolling, scouting, 
compass work, communications, food and water discipline, judo, 

7 Eastern Underwriter, Sept. 25, 1942. 


camouflage, stalking, fire-team tactics, first aid, swimming, handling 
of rubber boats. They worked at day and at night and in the times 
of the month when the nights were darkest. They made practice 
landings on San Clemente Island off Southern California and later 
on Barber's Point off Oahu. They learned to fight the surf, the 
same men each time in the same boats so that they could learn to 
work it together and what to give and what to expect from each 

"Training and Gung Ho is everything, 1 ' they heard their Old 
Man say over and over again. 

Of the two, the training was easier to get, for Americans have a 
native desire for physical competence. 

But no one became Gung Ho in a day or a week or in months. 
Neither the Chinese, nor the men and officers of the Raiders. It 
had taken Carlson himself three wars and thirty years. 

The American is a man who's willing to give an ideal an even 
chance. At first, everybody was enthusiastic and tried hard. Self- 
consciously, men and officers tried to forget caste and rank, and 
sought the things which would create respect for each other. Men, 
among their comrades, found ways of showing their willingness 
to work together in the thousand ways of camp life. They puttered 
around each other's rifles and packs, offering help and suggestions, 
volunteering to take on burdens and duties, and striving strenu- 
ously each to be more brotherly than his neighbor. 

But old habits of thought and thoughtlessness are as tough as 
crab grass. Slowly, almost without willing it, men began to take 
advantage, to see how much they could get away with; officers be- 
gan to use their rank as a decisive argument; old prejudices the 
smoldering fires of American life blurted flame-like out into the 
open. Many Americans can live a lifetime without being tested as 
Americans. This was a test and there was confusion. 

Carlson saw what was happening, and he was sorely beset. He 
talked with his men and officers, exploring their ideas and his own. 
He lay awake nights, trying to find clarity in the puzzle of human 
behavior. He realized that after the first enthusiasm had died away 
the Raiders would come to know that to live Gung Ho would mean 


a self-discipline and self-abnegation which they had neither been 
conditioned nor educated for. And they would fall back on self- 
interest. Self-interest was a primary human urge. But wasn't self- 
interest better served through co-operative cilort than by direct 
individual action? Could he make his men sec that? He began to rc- 
cxamine his own convictions about men. Did he believe in their 
basic good sense and intelligence? Yes. Did he believe in their 
willingness to use these for the advancement of their combined 
welfare? Yes. This is what he believed about human beings. Hut 
what stopped them from seeing their self-interest? What were the 
elements which helped them see it? 

He pondered this question, going back into his own life, and 
there seemed to him to be but one answer: leadership and informa- 

First, he examined "leadership." He had a military task in hand. 
He was a military leader; how must he act? 

He knew from experience that a leader has the respect of his 
men when he shares their privations and dangers. In his opinion 
a leader's success with his men is in inverse ratio to the degree to 
which he uses his authority to increase his own comfort, con- 
venience and security. 

The leader, in the interval between battles, or as he now stood, 
before the first battle, must create the spirit of co-operation by his 
own co-operative attitude. He must discipline himself to abide by 
the rules he lays down for his command. He must grapple endlessly 
with the problems of the relation between individual initiative and 
the essential control from above. And as for informing his men 
he must never cease explaining, teaching, preaching, practicing. 

Carlson knew it was always slow and tragic, the practice of com- 
mon sense. But he also knew if a man doesn't believe it can be done, 
he might as well die right now in a dark corner of a dark closet. 

Of course, from the very beginning, he policed his own quarters, 
slept on the tent floor, waited in line for chow taking his turn when 
it came. He lived out in the boondocks with his men, hiked with 
them, with full pack and weapons, made his own fire, cooked his 


own chow. If they worked seven days a week, as they did, so did he. 

With his men he was considerate and patient. He treated them 
as equals, on duty and off. His time was open to them, their com- 
plaints and suggestions. He encouraged them to come into his office 
and talk. 

With every order he gave, he asked himself: Was it necessary? 
Was it just? Would he do it himself? Or was it like so many orders 
he had known in the past, humiliating to the man who gave them 
and the men who had to obey? He insisted to his officers that they 
give few orders, for he knew that men who received too many orders 
were inclined to wait for more when they met perplexing problems 
in the field. The service tradition of demanding uniformity in all 
things was a curse that not only impaired initiative but helped the 
enemy predetermine our habits and probable reactions. 

He was strict with himself. 

One day bis son, Evans, Jr., a Lieutenant, presented himself in 
the office as a volunteer. 

He stared up at this boy who looked like him. They bad had 
very little of a life together. Carlson was proud of bis son's Marine 
record. He would have wanted to be close to him in the warm 
comradeship of work and battle. But be pushed the thought away 
and refused to accept him into the Raiders. 

He couldn't take the chance of being accused of favoritism. It 
would be better for the battalion not to have his son a member of it. 

When his officers heard about this, they tried to persuade him 
to change his mind. 

He explained why he did it. 

"But," they argued, "we don't think you're capable of favoritism." 

"I don't want to give anyone the opportunity of thinking so," he 

The debate lasted a long time, on and off for several months, even 
up to the time the battalion bad shipped out to Hawaii. During that 
time, Evans, Jr., had volunteered four times and was four times 
turned down. Finally, on the eve of the Guadalcanal campaign, 
Carlson's officers won and he accepted his son. 

"Expect no favors," he said when Evans, Jr., for the fifth time, 


presented himself. "If anything, I'll be tougher on you than on any- 
one else. I won't mean to be, but that's what I'm sure will happen." 
"That's all right with me, sir," Evans, Jr. replied happily. To be 
with his father was a boon he'd accept under any condition. 

If he was strict with himself, he was strict with others. 

One of the Raiders came into his office to ask for emergency leave. 
His mother was very sick. 

"I'm going to leave it up to you," Carlson said. "I know how 
much it means for \ou to be with her. My own mother died not so 
long ago. But your mother is in Georgia. You will be away fourteen 
days. During that time you will miss a great deal of training. You 
may miss something that might save your life some day or your 
comrades' lives. Think about it. Come back in a couple of hours 
and tell me what your decision is. If you decide to go you have my 
permission. If you decide not to go, I know it will be a great sacri- 
fice for you. But ask yourself is our cause worth making a 
sacrifice for?" 

When the boy left the office, Carlson wondered whether he'd 
done the right thing. Had he been too harsh? Was he expecting too 
much from human beings? Where docs a man draw the line on 

And while the boy thought it through, he, too, thought it through. 
The war, which he believed in, demanded the sacrifice of life. There 
can't be any lines drawn anywhere. When a man believes in some- 
thing, he's got to live it one hundred per cent, twenty four hours a 
day. Though he felt the boy's sadness, he knew that what he had 
asked him to do was right. 

That evening the boy returned and said that he had decided not 
to go home and would telephone instead. "And would the Major 
speak to my mother," he asked, "and explain to her why?" 

But Gung Ho didn't come in a day. 

"We've got to seek every means to inform our men and ourselves 
as to why we are fighting," Carlson told his officers. 
And so they had weekly Friday night open forums which began 


with a song, the "Marine Corps Hymn" and the slogans, "Ahoy, 
Raiders! Hi, Raiders! Gung Ho!", and ended with the National 
Anthem. And in between there would be a harmonica piece by 
Carlson, or the whole battalion singing "Carlson's Raiders." But 
the important part of the meeting would be a talk by Jimmy Roose- 
velt about the war and the world they lived in. 

The tall, lanky son of the President, Gung Ho in his own right, 
conscientiously put together the little pieces of world history which 
made the mosaic of our times. 

"This is why we are fighting," he would say. "In 1931, the Japs 
moved into Manchuria . . ." 

He told them the sad and essential story with maps and figures 
and experiences: Czechoslovakia, Munich, Chamberlain, the non- 
aggression pact, China, our neutrality, our mistakes, Ethiopia, Spain, 
the one world, the one war, the one indivisible peace. . . . He ex- 
plained what democracy meant, and Fascism, militarism and im- 
perialism. . . . And they listened, some of them hearing new words 
and thoughts and getting new meanings. 

It was slow going. The question and discussion periods lay empty 
and fallow week after week. But after a while questions would come: 
Can we trust Russia? Why did we sell oil and scrap to the Japs if 
we knew the) were going to attack us? Is it true that Fascism is 
only against the Jews? 

There were other Friday nights when Carlson would do the 
talking. He talked Gung Ho. "You just can't drift and get along 
with people. You've got to make a conscious effort." 

He'd tell them about China and the Japanese way of fighting. And 
he'd explain that this wasn't a race war or a war of color against 
color. "The worst thing that can be said of a man," he said, "is that 
he hates another man because of his color or religious creed or the 
place of birth of his father." 

"Major," some one yelled during one question period. "When 
you say we should have no prejudices, does that apply to the dog- 
faces, seabecs and swobbics?" 

The battalion roared with laughter, but Carlson answered with 
great seriousness. "Soldiers and sailors are Americans, too! It's all 


right to have jokes about them but you'll be damned glad to have 
s em around when you get into battle." 

He preached Gung Ho until the phrase became part of their 
living. Men loading a truck would yell to a Raider passing by, "Hey, 
Mac. How about a little Gung Ho on the box?" 

He had his times of great elation, in which he could tell the 
idea was catching hold, like once when he overheard a Raider say 
that his ambition was to be a Gung Ho citizen even after the war. 
But his hours of faltering and despair were even more frequent. 
Yet, stubbornly, he believed that Gung Ho would work. The final 
test of it, of course, would have to come in battle when with every 
consideration but life and death dissolved out of his men, their 
natural urge to co-operate would find a reservoir of specific experi- 
ences to draw upon. These talks at camp, these examples, these cease- 
less reiterations of principles would be, with their training in arms, 
a pattern transfer on their hearts and minds. Battle would be the 
hot iron. The pattern was bound to come through. 

In battle, his men would know Gung Ho, and how to fight by 
touch and feel, if by no other way. 


". . . the softness of Americans . . " 

In April, Clyde Thomason told the boys in the Atlanta office 
that he expected to be on his way soon. 

Just to give you an idea of how complete our equipment is, 
we have belly bands (something like corsets to prevent in- 
testinal disorders), wrist watches, flashlights, polaroid sun- 
glasses and theatrical make-up for night work. ... It won't 
be long now. Had a farewell speech by Admiral Brown. Also 
by General Vogel (Marine). Sunday, a week ago, there was 


a speech by Secretary Knox speaking for the President. And 
previously, Eleanor herself had talked to us. By the way, I 
like her a lot. . . . For such a small outfit we have been getting 
quite a lot of attention. I'm really thrilled I've gotten into this 
outfit. . . . 

The transport U.S.S. /. Franklin Bell moved out of San Diego to 
take her place in a convoy for Pearl Harbor. May is a good month 
to cross the Pacific and the Raiders aboard, after four months of 
training, enjoyed doing nothing for a change. 

In his cabin, Carlson, now a newly promoted Lieutenant Colonel, 8 
was writing Battalion General Order 5-42. He did not know what 
his battalion would be asked to do after it reached Pearl. He was 
sure only that it would be used, and that the using would be hard 
and bloody. In preparing his Battalion General Order, he was seek- 
ing for something that would sum up their months of training 
and strengthen the spirit of his men for the task that lay ahead* 

Several days after leaving San Diego, he finished writing it, and 
ordered it to be read on board at formation by each company com- 
mander to his men, and then to be posted on company bulletin 
boards once a camp site had been established. 

The solemnity of the time in which it was read was scored by the 
fact that it was so pitifully early in the war and that the Raiders 
would be among the first, if not the first, to move offensively against 
the conquering enemy. 

"Battalion General Order, Number 5-42, The Task that Lies 
Ahead," the Company Commanders read, "This battalion is now 
headed for the theatre of operations in the Pacific. . . . We become 
the first of our land forces of our nation to carry the war to the 

The hollow drums of the blowers sounded like distant guns. 

"During the course of our training there are a few points on 
which I have placed unusual emphasis. I want to emphasize them 
again for they have a vital bearing on the accomplishment of our 
mission. First: a deep-seated conviction on the part of each in- 

8 Notification of his promotion did not come to him until he reached 
Pearl Harbor, 


dividual of the righteousness of the cause for which we fight. 

"We are striving to build a society wherein the members will be 
able to enjoy the four freedoms. ... If we do not produce the 
courage, the sinews ... to defeat Japan, our people, too, will be- 
come slaves. . . ." 

The ship's crew hung over the toprails listening. 

"The enemy ... is fully aware of the softness of Americans and 
on this factor alone he banks to give him 75 per cent of his vic- 
tories. . . . We must constantly keep in condition . . . moderation 
of eating and drinking and the avoidance of venereal disease. . . . 

"The Gung Ho spirit . . . Know the tools with which you 
work. . . . Study terrain at every opportunity. Learn how to use it 
to gain cover and to sneak up on your opponent. Keep contact 
with your fire group leader. . . . Reflect daily on these pre- 
cepts. . . ." 

The voices of the company commanders sounded clearly over 
the boom of the wind in the rigging. The ranks held against the 
slow roll of the decks. 

"By our faith, our energy, our courage and our intelligence 
perhaps most of all by our willingness to sacrifice comfort and con- 
venience we shall march on to victory. Even more important, we 
will set the pace and blaze the trail for those behind, inspiring 
them with confidence and showing them that we Americans have 
what it takes to win battles. It means work and sacrifice, Raiders, 
but let's go." 

The ranks broke up on order and the words went silently away 
with each man. The ship raced ahead across a bright and unruffled 

They went into camp in the boondocks of Oahu and continued 
their training and their ethical indoctrination. The hikes were 
longer and harder, the rubber boat and swimming were against a 
tougher surf; and the Friday night forums were keener and livelier. 

"I remember," Lieutenant Victor Maghakian said, "sitting out in 
the open when some of the men started yelling for Carlson to sing, 
and he blew his old harmonica to give himself the pitch and sang 


the Chinese Partisan song and 'Darling, I Am Growing Old,' and 
Abide with Me.' And then he'd do some talking. Lord, I loved to 
hear him talk. He spoke about religion a lot not just going to 
church, but living it. He was the most religious man I ever knew." 

"I remember," Lieutenant Tom Jolly said, "that we were so keen 
to train at Oahu that one day after we came out of submarine school 
someone passed some crazy scuttlebutt around to the effect that the 
Old Man was starting a catapult school to teach us how to catapult 
over the Jap lines. We took it so seriously fifty men went right over 
to the First Sergeant to volunteer. He hadn't heard about it, but he 
said he'd ask the Old Man." 

Private Al Flores remembers: "We took pride in the fact that our 
training was tougher than anyone else's in the whole Marine Corps; 
we even took pride in getting less liberty than anyone else. The Old 
Man showed that he admired and respected us, and we saw that 
there wasn't anybody who loved our country more than he did 
and that's why we loved him." 

But Oahu on the Islands wasn't war. 

Carlson's Raiders was the only land force personnel attached to 
Admiral Nimitz, and Nimitz could order it into action without 
going through the conventional chain of command. The Raiders 
were called "Nimitz's personal army." 

"What's your idea of how to best use your Raiders?" Nimitz 
asked Carlson when he first saw him in the crowded corridor of 
Navy Headquarters. 

"Hit-and-run Jap-held territories, sir. Using submarines for trans- 
porting the men." 

"Toward what end?" 

"To work out the Jap pattern of defense and to do as much 
material damage as we can. If we hit a half a dozen different spots 
at different times and places we can tell what places he'll defend 
at all cost, and what places he won't. We can tell where he'll get his 
reserves from. This'll give us his probable reaction in the future 
when we make our main drive." 

"How many subs do you think you'd need?" 


A Ho in the rear of at 

Camp ( )atlin, 

the of the U.S.S. on its the 


Nimitz laughed. "I can let you have two to practice landings 

"That's all right for a starter." 

"You're lucky you can have a real sub to practice with instead of a 
mock-up," Nimitz said with a quiet bitterness. He looked out of a 
near-by window. There was a disciplined )ct desperate frenzy in 
the view, naval and marine officers hurrying from one office to an- 
other, and beyond, in the repair base, the mosaic of sounds rising 
from the drv docks where half-ships being made whole lay like 
wounded men. Time was defeat at Pearl in those feverish days of 

"Carlson," Nimitz said softly. "We're short of men, short of ships 
and short of planes. Your ideas arc sound enough but find out what 
you can do with the subs, and I'll take up the question of hit-and-run 
raids with the stafT." 

Carlson and his men found out that they could disembark with 
their weapons from subs into rubber boats and undetected make a 
landing with the help of outboard motors whose noise was blanked 
out by the greater sounds of the breaking surf. A demonstration 
for Admirals Nimitz and Spruancc and Marine Brigadier General 
Harry Pickctt proved this, for the Raiders had made a landing on 
a moonless night and came within fifty feet of these officers before 
being heard or seen. It was obvious to them all that .surprise could 
be achieved with such raids, and that they were worth trying. 

But Carlson and his men were worried. In order to make a beach 
with rubber boats and then to leave it in any kind of order and with 
any timing, outboard motors were essential. But the A motors 
they were using were not doing the job, for their coils and genera- 
tors were exposed and easily water-logged and made ineffectual. 
Another motor, the B, had these vital parts enclosed and Carlson 
pleaded with the quartermaster to buy them for the Raiders. But 
Headquarters in Washington replied that A had already been ap- 
proved and purchased in quantities and nothing could be done. 
Carlson and Roosevelt tried every way they knew to change this, 
but the war caught up to them too quickly. 

From Nimitz and the staff came ideas on where to use the 


Raiders. Carlson was ordered to investigate the possibilities of hit- 
and-run raids on Wake, Tinian, Hokkaido, Tulagi and Attu. In 
each case something came up to change the plans. During this time, 
however, two companies of the Raiders were transported to Mid- 
way, where, during the battle from June 3 to June 6, they manned 
anti-aircraft batteries. 

By the beginning of July, Nimitz's headquarters, trying to fit 
Carlson's plan into the general strategic scheme, decided on Makin 
Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. 

"This time, Carlson," Nimitz said, "it sticks. We don't know 
much about what the Japs have there. Tarawa, near Makin, doesn't 
seem like much yet. From reports Makin is their headquarters 
in the Gilberts. They've got a seaplane base and a great deal of 
supplies. As to how strong a force defends the place we haven't 
much definite dope. You'll have to make your own estimate. We're 
allowing you two subs. That'll mean a force of about 200 men." 

Until the time of the Raiders' departure from Hawaii only six 
officers knew the destination. Yet when the Raiders reached Makin, 
Gilbertcse natives told Carlson that the Japs knew they were com- 
ing, and even knew within two days of the exact landing date. 
So much for Japanese espionage! 

For Makin, plans were composed with endless care. A mock-up 
of the atoll was built at Barber's Point with roads, wharves, houses 
and stores just as they were placed on the aerial photographs of 
Makin, itself. Countless practice landings were made from the subs 
in the dark of the month of July until the Raiders knew by heart 
the terrain and its features, the position of every house and direc- 
tion of every road. They could take the atoll in the night, blind- 

The only thing left was to move on to the real thing. 


Clenched tightly in a Japanese fist 

When the Raiders left Pearl Harbor for Makin, on August 9, 
1942, maps and aerial photographs were distributed, and the men 
were told their destination. Every man recognized the tiny, 
thousand-yard-wide Italy-shaped atoll as the mock-up on which 
they had made so many practice landings on Oahu. Someone yelled: 
"Hell, I know this atoll ass-back wards from the king of spades." 
It pleased Carlson that their training had been so effective and, 
as a result, their confidence so complete. 

En route, they studied the maps and photographs under magni- 
fying glasses, and learned by heart the schedule of their raid. They 
were to disembark from the 'Nautilus and Argonaut at three o'clock 
the morning of August 17, assemble alongside the subs until the 
companies were organized, then move into Butaritari, the main 
island of Makin atoll. The landing had to be made by 5:30, a few 
minutes before daylight. Company A under Lieutenant Plumlcy 
would land at Beach Y, and Company B under Captain Coytc at 
Beach Z. The mission of the raid was to destroy enemy forces, in- 
stallations, capture prisoners and documents. Withdrawal to the 
subs must be made no later than by 9 P.M. (2100) of the same day. 
If for some reason they had not reached the submarines by that 
time, it would be up to the discretion of the task force commander, 
Commander John Haincs, whether to wait any longer or to make 
his way back to Pearl without them. And if everything went well, 
another island, Little Makin, would be raided the next morning. 

From the very beginning, almost every one of his plans for Makin 
had gone awry. 

On Sunday night, August 16, the Nautilus and the Argonaut 
lay off Makin. Commander Bill Brockman, a big muscular man for 


a submariner, came down from the conning tower of the Nautilus 
wiping his face of sweat and the sea mist. 

"Colonel, I've got some bad news for you," he said. "Squalls 
above. Heavy swells and an onshore wind. It's going to be touch and 
go gettin' of! the subs and gettin' onto the beach." 

Carlson went topside to look for himself. The moonless dark of the 
night kept him blind for a moment and the fresh air relief went un- 
noticed. His first thought was the unreliable outboard motors. The 
best his men had been able to do was to construct makeshift cover- 
ings over their exposed parts. Would they stand up against the high 
running seas? 

He stared into the darkness in Makin's direction. As he heard the 
waves bang against the sub he could understand why the Japs were 
so certain no one could possibly land on the seaside of the atoll. 
Aerial photographs had shown that all their defenses had been placed 
to face the quiet lagoon within. If everything else fails, he thought, 
at least he could still count on the element of surprise. 

The time had come for disembarking, motors or no motors, high 
seas or no high seas. He bit on his unlit pipe and passed the word 
along. Up through the hatches camouflaged men and rubber boats 
and weapons came swiftly from long practice. Air hoses were run 
out on the deck to inflate the rubber craft. Weapons, ammunition, 
signal equipment were lashed in place. 

The sub rose and fell and drifted toward the beach. 

From the dark sea came voices calling from the boats the Argo- 
naut had launched: 

"My motor's out!" 

"Mine too! I can't get headway." 

"The sub's moving!" 

"God-damned ocean!" 

"Oh you friggin' motor!" 

Black silences were broken by the voices and the despairing, in- 
effectual coughs of half-drowned motors. 

His own boats from the Nautilus had not yet been launched 
and he knew with certainty that they would meet the same fate. 
His plan of landing would have to be changed. 


Brockman came up to him. "The tide's movin' us in toward the 
reef, Colonel," he said. "We've got to start backing away before we 
pile up. That's what's happening to the Argonaut" 

"We won't be able to assemble our boats alongside then," Carl- 
son said quickly. 


"That means my company commanders'll lose control." 

Brockman said nothing. 

"If you have to get the sub moving move," Carlson said. 
Everything now would have to be changed. Swiftly! 

Carlson checked alternatives. But there were no alternatives. The 
landing, of course, would be made although he would have to 
abandon everything but his confidence in his men. 

Yet, these men of his whom he trusted had to have every break. 
They must not be permitted to land in small groups easily out- 
numbered. They must not be left isolated, out of contact with each 
other, and alone against an enemy in defense and well co-ordinated. 

Somehow they must be brought to the beach, any beach in an 
organized way. 

The dying motors choked and were silent. He heard in the dark- 
ness his men cursing. 

The hilly sea, now ally to the enemy, thrust the .sub away from 
it, sucked it back, swirled around and over its deck. The rim of 
darkness beyond lay cavehke. Seconds had passed. 

Quickly, he shouted an order, "Disembark and follow my boat 
to the beach!" That was all he could do now! 

Men pushed boats past the deck onto the breasting sea. As a man 
held the stern rope, other men jumped in, took the other end and 
held the bouncing craft against the slowly moving sub until the 
rest of the crew boarded. The motor was started. It turned over a few 
times when a wave smashed into it and it died. 

From the deck of the Nautilus, men whose faces were painted 
as dark as the night jumped into the bobbing boats uncertain 
whether they'd land on them or in the sea. Carlson was the last 
man to leave the sub. He had to leap across several feet of raging 
water. As he fell into the boat he smacked his right cheekbone near 


the eye against the butt of a rifle. During the ensuing battle, half 
his face was swollen as if with mumps. 

Across the dark water, he and his men yelled the new plan to 
the Argonaut's men. "Follow us! Follow us!" 

The yell was passed from boat to boat. 

The noise of shouts and the beating of the boats against the 
sub made it seem certain that the Japs could hear them. 

Finally, gathering as many boats as he could reach, Carlson led 
his men toward Butaritari, specifically in the direction of the ocean 
beach opposite Government Wharf which jutted out from the 
lagoon side of the atoll. 

The column of boats moved slowly. The sea smashed against 
them roughly, twisting them, pushing them up on their ends, 
whirlpooling them around until all headway was lost. But the 
men had worked in surf like this before and they had worked 
together. Paddling with all their strength, they knew from the in- 
stinct of long practice, where to throw their weight to keep the 
bow headed straight. They were helped by the tide moving in, and 
after about an hour of exhausting effort they heard, jubilantly, the 
surf thundering. The dawn bloomed slowly behind the atoll and 
the outlines of the tops of palms could be seen. Breakers fought 
to upturn the light craft but again the pattern of practice came 
through and by 5:30 the landing was made. 

On the beach, it was still dark. The panting men tried to find 
their outfits. Both companies were badly intermingled. Slowly, in 
the stumbling darkness, names and commands brought order. 
Fifteen of the eighteen boats had landed. Men previously designated 
carried their rubber boats to the underbrush fringing the beach and 
concealed them with sand and palm fronds. Others swiftly oiled 
their wet weapons. 

So far, there was no sound from the enemy. The men heard 
only the shuffle of their own wet shoes over the beach, the surf 
booming, the breezes of dawn on the palm tops. 

Carlson felt good. His men had made it, and surprise was still 
his; an unapproachable beach had been approached and landed on 


despite the failure of his motors. Suddenly he heard a ripping blast 
from a BAR. Carlson ran long-legged through the gray-streaked light 
toward the sound. A Raider saw him and thought how even in the 
dark the Old Man's face glowed insanely. 

"Japs?" he called. 

"No, sir," replied a despairing voice. "One of the boys accidentally 
discharged . . ." 

"Japs heard it too, then!" Carlson said. But he forced calmness 
into his voice, called for Plurnlcy, commander of Company A, and 
ordered him to move his company across the island. "Find the 
road on the lagoon side and send a messenger back when you find 
it. I want to know where we're located in relation to Government 

Plumlcy sent a patrol ahead. Sergeant Clyde Thomason in com- 
mand. Squads led by Corporals Piskcr, Dcbosik and Wittenberg 

A haze over the island slowly lifted. 

In fifteen minutes, Plumlcy sent Lc Francois back to Carlson's 
Command Post, which was in a little taro patch near the beach, 
about fifteen city blocks away. 

"You hit the nail on the head, Colonel," Lc Francois whispered. 
"Where you are now is right opposite Government Wharf. Plum 
has some men on it, and we've taken Government House without 
opposition. Haven't seen a Jap yet." 

Orders and questions were spoken swiftly. Carlson wanted to 
keep the Japs as far away from the beach as possible. Plum was 
to advance South to see how far he could get. Company B, under 
Coyte, would remain in reserve and protect the left flank. Were 
the anti-tank rifles set up on the lagoon road to stop any Jap mech- 
anized force? 

In the Command Post, Roosevelt was talking via radio to the 
subs, keeping Task Force Commander Haines informed of the 

From across the island, shotguns and rifles suddenly blattered 
into the silence. 

Over the walkie-talkie came news. A platoon of Plumley's men 


surprised some Japs near a native hospital. Three truckloads of 
Jap reinforcements had been forced of! the road by the anti-tank 

Another message: "Two small Jap transports entering the 

The firing continued on the lagoon side. Plum's men were really 
at it. 

Three Gilbertese natives, brawny and dark, and with dignity, 
came stalking through the underbrush. 

Carlson and Roosevelt welcomed them gravely. A few yards 
away, armed Raiders remembering that Gung Ho meant treating 
natives kindly, fingered M-i's and Tommy guns just in case. 
In broken trader English the natives welcomed the Americans. 
Carlson shook hands with them. 

"We knew you come/' a native said. "Jap ' m trees three days. 
Food in trees. On lagoon." 

Carlson smiled. 

"You fly here?" the native asked. 

"How many Japs on the island?" Carlson asked. 

"Two hundred three hundred mcbbe." 


The natives didn't know what tanks were, and obviously there 
were none. 

"Where are Japs now?" 

"Plenty Japs on On Chcong's Wharf and Ukiangong Point." 

Carlson raised the subs on the radio and requested them to sur- 
face and fire their six-inchers across the island onto On Cheong's 
Wharf and the causeway leading from Ukiangong Point. 

A few minutes later, the whistle of shells arched overhead and 
burst beyond. Though there could be no spotting from the shore, the 
subs' gunners were extraordinarily accurate. 

Roosevelt remained at the CP, and Carlson moved up to the la- 
goon road to observe how his men were doing. This was their first 
combat. He had to see with his own eyes. 

The firing was heavy when he reached Plumley's CP. 

"I'm worried about those transports," Plum said. 

They crawled to the edge of the lagoon. 


"Those ships'vc got men," Plum said. 

Two ships moved in slowly toward them: a transport of about 
3500 tons and a gunboat of about 1000 tons. Men on the decks were 

Carlson called his radio man. "Can we reach the Nautilus from 
here?" he asked. 

The radio man started calling. There was no answer. 

"What's wrong?" Plum asked. 

"Can't reach 'em from here, sir." 

Carlson took a bearing on the ships, then ran back to the ocean 

The sun was higher no\\ . The sweat wet his face and hands. His 
shoulders slithered against his wet shirt. 

At the CP, he saw Roosevelt's bald head shining and moist in 
the sun. He was helping the wounded to a first aid station. 

"'Transport' Maghakian's shot'" someone \elled as (Unison came 
up. "He was waving his arms around directing his men and a Jap 
sniper caught him in the right arm." 

"He ought to learn not to use his hands," someone else said and 

"Where is he?" Roosevelt asked. 

"He wrapped it up and he's uaving his left arm now." 

Carlson was talking to the Niiittiltif. "Two ships in the lagoon/* 
he said. "Bearings as follows . . ." 

The crew of the sub heard about the two Jap ships almost as soon 
as the skipper. 

Said the submarine gun captain: "Skipper, shall we man the 

Said the skipper: "Man the guns." 

Said the gun captain instantly and without moving an inch: "Sir, 
the guns are manned." 

Said the skipper, grinning: "What the hell goes on hcrc?" D 

The Jap ships in the lagoon were out of sight but the gunners 
scored direct hits. 

Over on the lagoon, the men fighting the Japs along the road and 

9 W. S. Le Francois in his report on Makin. Saturday Evening Post, 
Dec. 4, 1943, and Dec. n, 1943. 


on the wharves heard the shells and someone shouted what each 
of them had feared most from the start: 'The Jap fleet is here!" 

At the Command Post on the ocean side, the men saw two 
plumes of smoke from the direction of the lagoon rising over the 
palm tops. 

"Direct hits," came over the walkie-talkie from Plumley. "The 
ships arc on fire. Lots of Japs drowning.'* 

Suddenly men from two of the missing boats who had landed 
in the darkness a mile north came running out from the fringing 
shrubs yelling "Ahoy, Raiders!" They reported to Carlson. 

"Isn't Peatross with you?" he asked. 

"No, sir." 

"What happened to him? He had eleven men." 

"The last we saw of Pete and his boat was just after he left the 

Lc Francois was back in the fight and four Jap machine guns 
crossed their fire on him. He fell with five bullets in his right arm 
and shoulder. After awhile, they brought him to the dressing sta- 
tion on the beach where the corpsmen and doctors were working. 

The dressing station was in a half-ruined warehouse with an 
arched roof. Jap snipers tried to pick off the wounded from the 
trees outside. 

Le Francois lay on a bloody mat. In a daze, he remembered Clyde 

He remembered him running up and down the firing line see- 
ing that the men in his squad were well placed. He could see, as on 
a rcd-grecn-sandy screen in front of him, a line of Japs creeping 
toward them through the trees and brush. Then, in recollection, 
came the hollowed, feverish cry of Thomason's, "Let 'em have it! 
Cling Ho! Raiders!" 

Thomason looked funny, his make-up streaked with sweat, his 
fine face screwed up and his tongue stuck out in excitement like 
a boy's on the Fourth of July. 

The creeping Japs died as they lay. From behind Le Francois's 
men there were Jap snipers working from cocoanut trees. 


There was the baby-cry sound of a light sniper's rifle. 

A Raider turned to Lc Francois and said, "That one got 

Lc Francois crawled over to the boy and felt his pulse. There was 
nothing. The pulse was silent. The heart was silent. The tongue still 
stuck out. The boys in Georgia would receive no souvenirs. But 
later his folks were sent Clyde's Congressional Medal of Honor. 

By 0700 the pattern of the enemy defense was apparent. It was 
built around jour machine guns, two grenade throwers, automatic 
rifles and flame throwers. A corps of snipers operated from the 
tops of coconut trees. Thev were cleverly camouflaged and their 
fire was extremely effective. By 1 1 $o, our line was able to move for- 
ward but the snipers continued to be a problem 

To Carlson, the four hours between 0700 and 1 1 30 were a scries 
of movements and events which crossed and recrossec! each other 
like an intricate ma7,c, but with each line clearly established and 

During much of those four hours, he was trying to anticipate 
next steps. The Makin radio had not yet been knocked out. The 
Jap-held atolls of Millc and Jaluit, approximately two hundred and 
fifty miles away, had been undoubtedly informed of the raid. Enemy 
seaplanes were probably on the way now to bomb and strafe Makin 
and to bring reinforcements. Even if the Raiders could prevent 
them from landing in the lagoon, they could drop paratroopers. 
He calculated his strength and chances against fresh Jap troops 
if they numbered a hundred or numbered a thousand, if they 
landed in the south or north. Mentally he prepared positions of 
ambush, attack, defense and withdrawal. 

Against any eventuality, he fought to be prepared, to anticipate, 
to have alternatives for alternatives. 

As he worked on this level of his mind, his long legs took him 
all over the firing front. He checked with his company command- 

10 Carlson's battle report. All italicized quotations in this section arc 
from the same document. 


crs, with their platoon leaders, and even with the squad leaders 
wherever he could. He moved ceaselessly, getting reports, offering 
suggestions, giving orders. 

"It's funny," a Raider said later. "It happened a lot of times when 
I was scared. I'd turn around and there was the Colonel, calm as 
hell, smoking that stinkin' pipe of his." 

"'Hya Raider,'" the Old Man would say. "'Hya doin'?'" 

"It happened a lot of times," the Raider said. ''It helped you feel 
not so scared, his being right up front with you." 

Carlson was everywhere, and his men came to expect him; few 
missed him. He had told them often enough that a commander 
must share what his men arc enduring. 

But beyond that, beyond giving his presence to the alleviation 
of the awesome loneliness of battle, he needed the presence of his 
men, to see what they were suffer ing, what they were doing or not 
doing. He needed to sec for himself the terrain and the obstacles 
confronting his men. "You can't issue orders from a map," he had 
warned his junior officers. 

A little before noon, one of the things he anticipated happened. 


Two Jap Navy reconnaissance planes came over and circled the 
fighting area for about fifteen minutes, dropped two bombs that 
did no damage and departed. 

"They'll be back," Carlson said to Lieutenant Lamb who only 
a few weeks before had been a Sergeant Major. "Tell your men to 
lay low and find cover when they do." 

"They'll be back," thought \V\gal and Brown and Pisker who 
fingered a little red rag he always carried with him because his 
mama from the old country told him that a piece of red on his 
uniform would keep away blood. 

The wounded too knew that the planes would be back as the 
Gilbertese natives, men and boys, carried them from where they 
lay to the first aid station on the beach. 

For a moment, a throttling terror choked Raider hearts. With 
the planes the full impact of their isolation hit them. They were on 
an island, a tiny island 1000 yards wide and 10 miles long, in 


the middle of the Jap empire. Only two slim subs, easily vulnerable 
from air and sea attack, were their life line home eight days away 
while Jap help was only an hour's Hying time distant. From 
Makin there was no place to go, no terrain into which they could 
disappear, retreat, withdraw, get new weapons and forces. 

Shrill, treble notes of a Japanese bugle sounded. A line of about 
a hundred green-uniformed men yelling "Banzai! Death to Roose- 
velt's Bastards!" charged en masse down the center of the island. 
They ran ahead passionately, fanatically, like men loving death, 
with fixed bayonets and (lame throwers at the ready. 

Oddly, the Jap attempt to terrori/e dissolved the terror the Raid- 
ers had just felt, and they waited patiently almost until the enemy 
was on them. 

"Roosevelt's Bastards!" the Japs yelled. 

"Gung Ho!' 1 came a reply, and the Raiders fired and fought 
carefully, thoughtfully, almost scientifically, like men hating death. 

At i :^o twelve planes came over, Xeios and seaplanes. 

Carlson had already ordered his anti-tank rifles to be moved as 
close to the lagoon as possible. If the seaplanes were to land, he 
wanted to knock them out. 

For seventy-five minutes, the planes bombed and strafed, and 
the Raiders lay motionless in their positions under palms and dead 
leaves and none were touched. 

One Kawanishi four-motored and one light seaplane landed in 
the lagoon and discharged about forty reinforcements. From the 
fringing land, Raider rifles and machine guns set the light plane 
on fire and damaged the huge Kawanishi lumbering across the 
lagoon. Tracers, anti-tank .55 caliber bullets, light machine gun 
.30*5 fought to find her. She circled three times to take off. Finally, 
the javelin of bullets speared her, and she dove her head into the 
water and disappeared. The other planes, now emptied of bombs, 
headed toward Jaluit and the Marshalls. 

"Come on back," the Raiders yelled. 

They were defiant now. 

A cry of "Gung Ho!" came out of the bushes. A Raider, trem- 


bling with excitement, ran across the beach toward the CP. "Where's 
the Colonel? Where's the Old Man?" he yelled. 

Carlson strode up to him. 

"I was with Lieutenant Peatross," the boy said, his lips shivering 
and his face streaked with sweat. 

"Pete landed!" 

Men came running up to hear better. 

"Yes, sir!" the boy said proudly. 

"Where is he?" Carlson demanded. 

The boy pointed south. "About a mile or so. The current took 
us. We been ashore since seven o'clock, cutting up Japs no end. 
We knocked over a small radio station near the trading post. It's on 
the map. We lost three men." He stopped. "Three good men!" His 
voice (luted to a shout. "Three God-damned good men! We killed 
over twenty though, burned the houses, burned a Chevvie truck. 
We heard you firing up here but we couldn't get through. The 
Japs is between us." He paused to catch his breath. "I got through. 
Pete told me to get through. I'm here, ain't I?" 

"Good old Pete," a man said. 

"Thanks, son, 1 ' Carlson said. "Get over under that palm and take 
a rest. You've done a great job." 

Peatross had obviously used magnificent initiative; not going 
back to the sub, not waiting to get a messenger through for orders, 
but relying on himself. Carlson knew that Peatross and his men, 
by the accident of landing behind the enemy lines and attacking, trad 
made his own job easier. 

Carlson spoke to Roosevelt. "More planes are going to bring 
back more reinforcements next time." 

"If we could keep knocking off those seaplanes," Roosevelt said 

Carlson glanced at his watch; then took a cigarette from a small 
metal box a Japanese surgical kit he had found earlier. He rolled 
the cigarette thoughtfully. 

"Three o'clock," he said. 

Roosevelt, out of habit, checked his own watch. 

They had been on Makin eight-and-a-half hours. 


"We've got another two hours before it's time to get back to the 
subs/' Carlson said, glancing out to sea. He was worried by the 
waves that pounded roughly against the coral and sand beach. He 
hoped that by sundown they would not be so high. 

From the Jap trading post across the island, came a sound checker- 
board of rifles and machine guns and grenades. 

He stared into the ocean. No amount of planning and foresight 
could reduce the size of one wave. His eyes moved into the sky. 
"The planes'll be back soon/' Then with sudden decision, he said, 
"Jimm), let's go up front and take a look." 

They found that the center of the Raider line was in an area 
thick with foliage providing excellent cover for Jap snipers. It 
wasn't a healthy situation for the Raiders. 

Carlson bit into his pipe and looked around. Near him lay a man 
from Company B sighting an M-i at a tree beyond. 

"H\a Raider," Carlson said in a whisper. "Hya doin'?" 

"Hya Colonel," the boy said without taking his eyes o(T the sights. 

Bullets from Jap snipers spattered in the grass. 

"Get the hell outta here, Colonel," the boy said. "Ya gotta get us 
off this aye-toll." 

He and Roosevelt mewed along the flank toward the Company 
Command Post in the center. They stumbled on a dead Jap. They 
looked for a moment at the face angry in death. 

"I hope the boys remember what I told them about not disfigur- 
ing the Japs," Carlson said. 

When they reached the Command Post, it was even more apparent 
that the Raiders were not advantageously located in the heavy 
brush. Their field of fire was circumscribed by the thick growth. 

Roosevelt suggested that the men ought to be pulled out of the 
area to a position where the field of fire would be greater. 

Carlson nodded; then calling the Company Commanders, he or- 
dered them to pull the men on the right flank back to clear ground. 
"Leave the left flank where it is," he said. "When the Japs find 
we've moved out of the area, they'll move in. Then the boys on 
the left can pick 'em oil as they advance." 

"It is just barely possible," he told Roosevelt, "that when the 


planes come back, they might bomb the area we just evacuated 
thinking we're still there." 

Roosevelt grinned. 

"And it's just barely possible that at that time the area might be 
filled with Japs moving in." 

Roosevelt smiled broadly. "It's just barely possible." 

At 4:30 more Jap planes flew over and, while the Raiders looked 
on triumphantly, the planes bombed the recently evacuated area for 
half an hour, killing many of their own troops. 

"It's not only possible, Jimmy," Carlson said exultantly as they 
watched the bombing. "It turned out to be probable." 

At five o'clock Roosevelt said, "Time to start our men back to the 
beach if they're to make the subs on time." 

Carlson nodded. "We haven't done everything we set out to do." 

Roosevelt was silent. 

"The question is," Carlson said quietly, "whether we withdraw 
now or later." He started to walk toward the firing front, put- 
ting his pipe away, lighting a cigarette. "Let me think it through a 
minute, Jimmy," he said. "1 want to sec what it's like up there." 

A time comes in every battle when a commander senses that his 
next decision is make or break, that the climacteric has been reached 
when the battle with its infinite potentialities passes from one life to 

Military academicians have drawn up long lists of factors and 
values which must be considered in an "estimate of the situation" 
time, terrain, disposition of enemy forces and friendly forces, and 
so on. Despite this, to arrive at an "estimate" is no more a scientific 
process than the process of mind which made Debussy's "Reverie" 
or Keats's "Ode to a Grecian Urn." The poet uses hard, definable 
words, the musician, calculable and finite mathematics of sound, 
but as the sum of their "facts" is not science but art, so it is with the 
sum of military facts. Intuition, a grasp of wholeness, perceptivity, 
imagination, or lack of these in short, a commander's entire life 
and character, as with the artist comes to a flood tide in the creative 
act of making an "estimate" and deriving a decision from it. For 


this reason, the commander's soul, the total of his experience, military 
and personal, is the most important fact of all. 

It was in the light of his total experience that Carlson, walking 
wanly across the island, marshaled the facts with which he could 
"estimate the situation." 

FACT: His immediate mission had been to destroy enemy forces 
and vital installations, to capture prisoners and documents. It had 
not been accomplished, despite heavy damages inflicted on the 
enemy, two planes and two ships destroyed. 

F\cr: It was now five o'clock. 

FACT: His orders were to get his men off the island and back to 
the subs by 7:^0 that night no later than nine. 

F\CT: His orders were to raid Little Makin next morning. 

F\CT: His casualties, though lighter than he had hoped for at best, 
were eleven dead and twenty wounded. 

At the firing front, he talked with his Company Commanders. 
They gave him more facts facts he could see and confirm with 
his own eyes. In terms of his character, this personal investigation 
was essential. 

FACT: The enemy was still strong and fighting with great vio- 
lence. His men were advancing very slowly. 

F\cr: The terrain was not conducive to rapid flanking or infiltra- 
tion maneuvers. 

And with these facts in mind, he asked himself, should he with- 
draw now or later? 

Carlson went from fact to deduction. The time factor, one hour 
and a half to two hours, was not enough to permit his forces to com- 
plete much more of their mission. He knew also that the toughest 
and most difficult military maneuver is withdrawal from combat 
quickly. Usually time was gained at the cost of lives or lives at 
the cost of time. If he took the chance to wait for the last minute to 


withdraw in the hope that some "break" would bring completion 
of his task, would not the risk be too great for the gain ? 

He decided that it would. He consulted with his battalion staff 
and told them that in his opinion to wait would be a mistake and 
withdrawal should begin immediately. 

They agreed with him and orders went out to the companies. 


"The spiritual low point" 

The hour of 1930 (7:30 P.M.) had been selected for the retirement 
because darkness would have set in and the tide would be high, en- 
abling boats to get over the reef. The surf didn't Ioo/{ tough, not 
nearly as tough as other surfs we had worked in, though rollers 
followed each other rapidly. No one was apprehensive of getting 
through. However, I had jailed to tat^e into account the speed of 
the waves and the rapid succession in which they followed each 
other. The following hour provided a struggle so intense and so 
futile that it will forever remain a ghastly nightmare to those who 

The withdrawal from combat had been orderly, the boat crews 
had been sent back to the beach to prepare their craft and check 
the motors, the stretcher wounded were given a final once-over by 
the doctors. 

Carlson and Roosevelt said good-by to the natives who had 
helped them. Joe Miller, the chief of native police, and William, his 
brother, promised to find and bury the Raiders who had been 
killed. Carlson gave them and their men some shotguns and am- 
munition. The Gilbertese were sad to see the Marines leave. They 


had hoped they had come there to stay, to free them from the Japa- 
nese slavemasters. 

By seven o'clock the bulk of the Raiders were on the beach. Only 
a covering force remained engaged, and they were placed so effi- 
ciently and were doing their job so well there were no Japanese 
charges or infiltrations. At 7:15 all the boats were lined up, and the 
ones at the extreme right and extreme left entered the water first. 
Others followed working toward the center. The center boat, which 
was Carlson's and the squad that covered the withdrawal, look of! 
at 7:30 after all the other boats had left. 

The darkness hid the beach from the enemy, and hid the boats 
from each other. 

Out bcNond the tumbling, ragged surf lay the Nautilus and 
the Argonaut, lay safety and home. Only a few thousand yards 

With a bullet in his head, a Marine named Lcn/ was in the first 
boat to go. Dr. Stigler was with him. If they could reach the sub in 
time, Len/ might live. 

Losing blood from five bullets in him, and half conscious, Lc 
Francois was in the second boat to go. A corpsman was with him. 
They'd have to get to the sub quickly. 

Lieutenant Charlie Lamb, wounded twice, was in the next boat. 
The taste of blood in his mouth made him vomit. 

The boats were filled with exhausted men, a battle behind them, 
their trembling nerves hungry for a moment's rest. 

But the night hid the boats from each other, and the thundering 
waves hid the sounds of men from each other. 

The experience in my own boat was typical. We walked the boat 
out to deep water and commenced paddling. The motor refused 
to wor1{. The first three or jour rollers were easy to pass. Then came 
the battle. Paddling rhythmically and furiously for all we were 
worth we would get over one roller only to be hit and thrown bacf{ 
by the next before we could gain momentum. The boat filled to 
the gunwales. We bailed. We got out and swam while pulling the 
boat to no avail. We jettisoned the motor. The boat turned over. 


Our weapons, compass, radio, ammunition were lost. We righted 
the boat and continued the battle. 

"The God-damned ocean." 

"The friggin', sonuvabitchin', ocean!" 

The curses bounced against the waters like pebbles against the 
Chinese Wall. The men were answered with stinging salt water in 
their mouths. Gigantic waves crushed them, threw them back, 
squeezed the life out of them. If they could only shoot the ocean, 
judo it, throttle it, plant a sharp Raider knife in its back, kick it in 
the crotch, thumb its eyes out. 

Or if only the motors worked! 

The ocean roared back at them. 

Three times, Lenz with the bullet in his head was turned over 
into the water. Three times, Dr. MacCracken dragged him onto 
the beach and pumped the water out, keeping the brain and the 
man alive. 

Le Francois, wounded and weak, couldn't paddle with the others 
in his boat and was a burden to them. When the tide and the waves 
had thrown his boat back on the beach, he asked his friends to leave 
him there and to go on without him. They refused. They tried five 
times and gave up. 

Someone saw Little Smitty swimming toward the Argonaut 
and that was the last they saw of Little Smitty. 

Charlie Lamb lay with his head in the water and his feet on the 
beach. They thought he was drowned and they pulled him out to 
save his body. He looked up with water-soaked eyes, and was 
silent, without saying thanks. 

All this time I thought ours was the only boat having this diffi- 
culty, for the others had left ahead of us. 

Carlson yelled encouragement to his men, and blessed the months 
of training back in the States and the months on Oahu when he 
had fought to make himself and his men strong. 


The waves swept him down. He heard a man cry, "God in 
heaven! God in heaven! What am I doing here?" 

After nearly an hour of struggle, men swam up to our stern and 
reported that their boat had gone bacl^ because the men were ex- 
hausted. They intended to rest, then walk the boat up the beach and 
try another spot. Our men were equally exhausted and I directed 
our boat be returned to the beach. On my arrival, I found that over 
half the boats were there and that all men were in a state of extreme 
exhaustion. Most of their gear had been lost. The wounded of whom 
there were four stretcher cases and several ambulatory were particu- 
larly helpless. 

"Take it easy now, fellows," they heard the Old Man's voice. 
"Rest. Go to sleep if you can. We'll get of! the island. Don't 

There were 120 men on the beach and others perhaps had landed 
elsewhere. With such arms as could be scraped together, guards 
were posted. 

One of the guards was Jessie Hawkins from South Gate, Cali- 
fornia. He had told everybody that South Gate was tough and that 
nobody from there ever died. He was shivering with cold at his 
post. His body and clothes were kept wet by a drizzle of rain. He 
wondered what the hell they were doing in South Gate that night. 
The seventeenth of August. He must remember the date to ask 
what the hell they were doing. 

Then he saw or heard footsteps and he saw eight forms moving 
slowly toward him on both sides. He picked the forms in front of 
him and fired. The forms on his right and left fired back. Bullets 
entered Jessie's chest from two sides but he kept firing at the forms 
until three stopped and lay where they stopped, and five ran away. 

They brought Jessie back to the beach. 

Dr. MacCracken looked at the open, blood-flowing chest, while 
Carlson and some men went looking for the Jap patrol. They 


found the three that Jessie said he'd gotten. But they didn't find the 
five. And MacCracken concluded that Jessie didn't have much of a 
chance to live. 

MacCracken bent over Jessie and took his hand. "Okay, Jessie?" 

"Sure. I'll live. South Gate . . ." 

"You'll be okay, Jessie," the doctor said. 

"I'll be okay if I can get out to the sub," Jessie said, and fell asleep 
from the morphine. 

Carlson asked if anyone saw Roosevelt and someone said they 
saw him about a quarter of a mile away. 

The next thing to do was to make contact with the subs. Would 
Haines wait for them? How long would he wait? 

He inquired for his communications men, and found that none of 
them were around. Either they had made the subs, or had been lost 
in the surf, or were somewhere else on the island. Someone brought 
him a radio but it was filled with brine and water. The only thing 
left was to use blinker lights but they, too, had been lost. Did any- 
one have a flashlight? After a few minutes, one was found. Now 
who knew the Morse code? 

One of his men came up to him. His name was Craven. 

"Colonel, I know Morse," he said, almost with reluctance. 

"Are you a communications man?" 

"No, sir. But I used to be." 

Carlson gave him the light. "Tell them we couldn't make the surf. 
Ask them if they'll wait until morning." 

Craven moved to a hillock of sand and flashed the message. All 
eyes searched the black borders of the sea. There was no answer. 
Craven repeated the message. 

A pinpoint of light showed, blinked off and on. Craven read out 
the message. 

"We will stay until you get off. Try to make it before Christ- 

"Hurray for the Navy," someone whispered. No one knew how 
many Japs were around or where. 

Carlson put his arm around Craven. "What's your name, son?" 

Craven hesitated, and backed away a step. And then as if he 


thought it over, he said, "Colonel, can I say something to you 
in confidence?" 


The boy moved closer and whispered. "I'm an Army deserter, 
Colonel. That's where I learned code. I'm AWOL about two years. I 
deserted to join the Marines. I always wanted to be a Marine. My 
name is Craven. I don't want Headquarters to get my name. They'll 
check up and I'll be in trouble." 

Carlson smiled. "Okay, Craven. Let's talk this over when we get 
back to Pearl. Maybe we can fix things up. Until then many 

In the darkness, he strode ofT down the beach to look for 

While he walked, he tried to gauge his situation. The appear- 
ance of the Jap patrol indicated that the enemy was still strong, 
and probably at the moment was concentrating its forces for a 
charge during the night or early morning. From all reports he had 
about a hundred and twenty men on the beach with perhaps twenty 
working rifles and no machine guns. By morning Jap planes from 
the southern Marshalls, from Mille and Jaluit, would certainly con- 
tinue their raids and attempts to bring fresh troops. 

Was there anything that could be done immediately? They 
could try the surf again until they were either all drowned or had 
reached the ultimate of human endurance. No. It would be better 
to keep what strength they had, and to wait until morning. Then, 
they might be able to augment their supply of weapons and food by 
capturing them from the Japs. In the morning, they could reach 
the natives again and get outrigger canoes. By morning, the surf 
might have subsided. 

He passed a group of men huddled against the base of a palm. 

"Hya, boys," he called softly. 

"Hya, Colonel." 

"Get some sleep. Try anyway." 

"We're in a spot, ain't we, Colonel?" 

In the darkness, they could see the white of his grin, remem- 
bered under other circumstances. 


"Don't say I didn't warn you, boys. I told you it would be tough 
in the Raiders." 

"Who's complaining?" someone said. 

"It still ain't as tough as you told us it might be," someone else 
said. "I got a half a bar of chocolate left." 

"Gung Ho, Colonel," a voice said. 

"Gung Ho! And don't worry. We'll be at Pearl next week this 

He walked away, feeling warmed by the talk. And the men, too 
exhausted to think much more, moved close to each other to get 
some body warmth against their wet clothes and the rain. 

The beach was hard and cold and dark and he stumbled on a 
man sleeping. And then he saw another small group and heard a 
man say hysterically, "Let's surrender! Goddamit, what are we wait- 
ing for? Let's find the Japs and surrender!" 

"Shut up ["another voice said, and he recognized it as "Transport" 

Carlson waited. 

"The subs have left us and we're thousands of miles from help," 
the hysterical voice went on. "Thcre're only about a hundred of us. 
And maybe five hundred Japs. And more tomorrow. Let's sur- 

"Shut up!" Maghakian said. 

"I won't shut up! I'm going to find the Colonel." 

Then came the sound of men moving in the sand and a series of 
short slaps. 

"I told you to shut up," Maghakian said. "I warned you." 

The other man was sobbing softly. "You can't stop me from 
thinking," he said between sobs. 

"Shut up," Maghakian said. 

There was silence. 

Another voice said, "What the hell! This's gonna be a long war. 
If you don't get it at Makin, you'll get it somewhere else. I'm not 
surrendering to any friggin' Jap." 

"And don't worry," Maghakian said, "Carlson and Roosevelt 


aren't either. Did I tell you what the Old Man told me before we 
left Pearl? He told me . . ." 

Silently, Carlson moved away. Surrender? He was sure that every- 
one on the beach was thinking of that possibility. He, himself, had 
thought of it before this night, before they had even left Pearl. It 
was something you had to anticipate and his decision had long 
been made. Courage to die had meaning only in relation to what 
men offered their lives for. If nothing could be gained, tactically or 
strategically or morally by an all-out, suicide last-ditch fight, he 
would surrender his men. But the estimate of the gain would have 
to wait until the facts were before him. Right now his hunch was 
that the enemy was still quite strong, but he did not yet know how 
strong his own men were. 

After a while, he found Roosevelt and was much relieved. 

They talked over their situation and decided that there was 
nothing that could be done until daylight. 

"Let's get some sleep then," Carlson said. 

The rain and the night-cold swept the beach. From the sea, waves 
slammed angrily against the coral sand. 

Carlson hollowed out a little hummock for himself and curled 
up and closed his eyes. 

For a moment, he permitted himself to think of his home, his 
father, his sister, his brother and his son who was waiting with the 
rest of the battalion on Oahu. And then he retraced the steps of the 
day. Suppose he had not made the decision to withdraw and had 
waited? Would it have mattered? The sea would still have been 
too high. Suppose there had been no definite time set for withdrawal 
and it had been left to his discretion? That would have been better. 
Suppose they had had the enclosed B motors and not the Head- 
quarters-approved A? Ah, that would have been much, much better. 

He hoped that no men were drowned in the surf, but he knew, 
even as he hoped, that lives must have been lost. 

This was no time for "ifs," he told himself. This was the time for 
rest, for gathering back the strength lost so as to confront the facts 
that would come with day. 


For the moment, he had done all he could. 

Elsewhere on the beach, his half-naked men huddled together 
trying to keep warm, trying to keep from their thoughts terror and 
loneliness. They dared not think that perhaps the subs would leave 
them. Or that the Japs still outnumbered them. Or were, at this 
moment of darkness, landing reinforcements. 

The sea pounded, the night moved on slowly. The guards watched 
with their hearts in their eyes. 

Rain and the fact that most of the men had even stripped them- 
selves of their clothes in the surf, added to the general misery. This 
was the spiritual low point of the expedition. 


Who followed my father . . . ? 

Shortly after daylight, one group of men requested permission 
to make another try through the surf. After a terrible battle, they 
made it. Another group was organized and succeeded, but the 
struggle was too much to send the stretcher cases. 

Carlson directed Roosevelt to return to the sub and take charge 
of the men aboard. Roosevelt's boat left the beach toward the subs 
that, now that day was here, had surfaced and had moved in as 
close as possible to the shore. A few minutes later a boat with five 
Marines left the Nautilus for the beach. These five men, visualizing 
the hardships of their comrades ashore, had volunteered to bring 
them supplies, weapons and ammunition. 

As the two boats, one going out and one coming in, bobbed in 
the sea, a flight of Jap seaplanes, hedge-hopping from the lagoon 
side of the island dove toward them, strafed and bombed the boats 


and subs. Roosevelt's boat reached the sub a few minutes before 
the bombs bracketed it. Mountainous geysers hid the scene from 
those who watched. It looked as if the sub had been hit. 

"Poor gobs," Le Francois heard someone sob. 

"There goes our transportation." 

When the geyser subsided, the subs had disappeared and all that 
was left on the surface was the one rubber boat with the five volun- 
teers. The planes concentrated on the boat, criss-crossing it with 
lines of bullets. It overturned. Men started swimming away. Bul- 
lets from the screaming, zooming planes sought them out. One by 
one they sank beneath the sea to stay, and then men on shore yelled 
in fury and frustration. 

Five men gave their lives for their comrades: Sergeant Allard 
of Woodside, Long Island; Sergeant Dallas H. Cook of Redjackct, 
West Virginia; Private First Class Richard Olbcrt of Durango, 
Colorado; Private John L. Kci ns of Cooper Hill, Tennessee; Private 
Donald Robertson of Franklin, Louisiana. 

There were now seventy men left on the beach, and when the 
air raid was over they thought they were there for good, for it had 
seemed to them that the subs had really gotten hurt. 

Carlson gave his men no time for wondering but sent out patrols 
to bring him the answer to the prime question: how many Japs 
were left? Word came back shortly that a patrol at the north end 
of the island had uncovered two Jap marines and shot them, and a 
patrol on On Cheong's wharf had killed another. On the whole of 
Makin no other enemy was found. It was like the bursting of a big 
balloon. The anxiety blown to monstrous proportion by the night of 
uncertainty collapsed. 

The men were too tired and hungry to celebrate, but a few started 
singing. They had won Makin; it was theirs! 

For the first time they felt the sun, smelled the scented coral air. 
For the first time since they had landed, they looked around and 
felt alive. 

But there was no getting off the island yet. The fate of the subs 
was uncertain; Jap planes would be coming back and the surf was 
higher than ever. 


Carlson led a patrol to collect food and ammunition for his men, 
to inspect his own dead and the enemy dead, to search for papers. 
He found altogether about two hundred enemy dead. Natives 
brought him word that they had picked up three survivors from the 
Jap transport that had been sunk in the lagoon by the Nautilus's guns. 
About a hundred Jap marines had been aboard; most had been 
killed by the direct hits, a few had drowned, and the survivors were 
probably the men killed by the patrols that morning. 

His own dead numbered eighteen, not counting the five volunteers 
and the seven presumed to have been drowned in the surf during the 
night. But Carlson didn't know about these seven yet. 

He found the dead Raiders: Jerry Holtom and Clyde Thoma- 
son, I. B. Earles, Dan Gaston, Harris Johnson, Ken Kunkle, Big 
Ed Maciejewski, Bob Pearson, Ashley Hicks, Norm Mortenson, 
John Vandenberg, Bob Maulding, Frank Nodland, Mason Yarbo- 
rough, Vernon Castle, Bill Gallagher, Ken Montgomery, Charlie 

Carlson turned each man on his back and said a prayer. He v/ould 
have buried them but the coral was too hard and he had no instru- 
ments with which to dig. Moreover, time was going fast. 

He reminded Joe Miller, the native police chief, of his promise to 
bury the dead, and gave him fifty dollars in addition to what he had 
given him the day before. Miller solemnly agreed. 

Later, a year and four months later, on November 21, 1943, Roose- 
velt landed again on Makin with part of the i65th Army Combat 
Team, part of the 2yth Division, this time to take and to hold the is- 
land. He sought out Miller, who showed him the graves. They had 
been well cared for; they had little headstones and palm fronds and 
a few flowers over them. "It be done," Miller said. 

By late afternoon, there were three more air raids, and by the ac- 
tions of the planes, it seemed as if the enemy was completely con- 
fused. Butaritari was bombed, but also Little Makin, and all the 
other islands of the atoll. If there were Japs hidden on those islands, 
their own planes either kept them hidden or killed them. 


The day had given Carlson the time he needed to complete his 
mission. Every installation was burned, the Jap Commandant's pa- 
pers were seized, and 1000 barrels of gasoline were fired. Only one 
thing was left undone the taking of prisoners. But there were 
none to take. 

All day, he had been worried about the subs. He had decided not 
to attempt the ocean again but to get out through the lagoon. Natives 
and his own patrols had assured him that no enemy guns had been 
emplaced on the land bordering the lagoon. But were the subs still 
around? Had they been damaged or destroyed by the air raids? Or 
had they remained submerged all clay for safety's sake? He would 
have to wait until night to know. In the meantime, he directed that 
four rubber boats all he had left be carried over to the lagoon 
and their motors worked on. And from the natives he got an out- 
rigger canoe big enough to hold the rest of his men, including his 
.stretcher wounded. 

When night came and the last of the enemy planes had disappeared, 
he ordered his men to board the canoe and the boats while he and 
a small patrol, including Craven with the flashlight, remained on the 
ocean side to try to reach the subs. 

It was dark, and Craven walked to a high point and flashed his 
light on and off. MEET US OFF FL1NK POINT AT END OF 

No answer. 


From the night sea came a light. 

Craven read the letters aloud, "W-h-o? W-h-o?" 

"They think the Japs arc trying to trap them," Carlson said. 
"Tell 'em it's Carlson's Raiders." 

Craven blinked out the words. 

The answer came back: WHO? WHO? 

"Tell him my name is Evans Fordyce," Carlson ordered. 

But again the answer was WHO? WHO? WHO? 

Then darkness. 

And out of the darkness came another message. 



"Now, what the hell?" Craven said. 

"Colonel, did you get into an argument about fishing with any 
of the fellows on board?" Craven asked. 

"No. . . ." Carlson said. He pondered the question. "Fishing?" 
It didn't make sense. "Who followed my father and me fishing?" 
Whose father? He went over the men on board whose fathers he 
knew. Brockman? Pierce? Haines? Ah, Haines! 

Then it suddenly came to him. He had known Commander 
Haines's father when he had been the Adjutant and Inspector of the 
Marine Corps. On board, he and Haines had had long and friendly 
arguments as to who had succeeded Haines's father in the job. 
Haines had insisted that it was Rufus Lane; and Carlson said it was 
"Squeegie" Long. 

"Try this, Craven," Carlson said, fighting to keep his voice calm. 
"Try this. Just flash 'Squeegie? " 

"Spell it, Colonel." 

Craven blinked out S-Q-U-E-E-G . . . 

The blinker from the sub interrupted. 

ROCjER, the light said. 

And it was welcome. 

The little party hurried across the island. 

"The colonel and his detail were the last men to reach the boats," 
Le Francois reported later. "He was tall and gaunt and sinewy, a 
man with a tremendous amount of endurance and a trigger-fast 
mind that made the right decisions in a split second. His men had 
followed him into this dangerous mission because they believed in 
him." 11 

Carlson wanted to make certain that all his Raiders were ac- 
counted for. Quickly he asked the help of his men to ascertain 
whether everyone who had been seen on the island during the day 
was in the boats. He knew that once he had left Makin for the 
subs there would be no way of determining who was missing until 

11 Saturday Evening Post. Op. cit. 


he reached Pearl Harbor, for between the subs there could be no 
breaking of radio silence. 1J 

The men reported that as far as they knew all who had spent 
the day on Makin were aboard 

Carlson gave the order to start the motors. 

The Raiders waited hungrily for the first "sput." It came and 
it died, and when it came again and kept going the motors 
sounded like Handel's "Hallelujah." 

The word was passed back to the coxswain. "The Colonel says 
keep headed for the star." 

There was a star, way out ahead of them, and they moved 
toward it slowly. 

The motors stuttered and stopped, and men cursed and paddled. 
Behind them, came the whipthong sounds of shots, perhaps from 
the natives. Ahead, past the black jutting difTs of the lagoon walls, 
rose a red flare burst. 

12 On May 22, 1946, an A.P. dispatch from Guam stated that nine 
United States Marines all from Carlson's Haulers were beheaded to 
celebrate a Japanese holiday. This was revealed by a defendant at the 
war crimes trial. The victims were supposed to be irom among Raiders 
stranded on Makin after the raid. Commenting on this report, Carlson 
said: "You have my account of what happened at Makin. You have also 
interrogated numerous Raiders who have also participated in that raid. 
My official report contained the basic facts as I knew them. You remem- 
ber that there were twelve men whom I reported as 'missing/ Oi this 
number five were the crew of the rescue boat which was strafed by Japa- 
nese planes on the morning of the eighteenth of August. None of the 
twelve were seen by the seventy of us who spent the second day on the 
island. I was the last Marine to leave the lx.-ach, when we attempted the 
evacuation on the night of the seventeenth of August, and when we suc- 
ceeded in getting away on the night of the eighteenth. 

"There can be no question about the eighteen that were killed in 
action, for I checked their bodies. The twelve 'missing' were presumed to 
have been lost in the surf during the first night attempt at evacuation and 
during the strafing of the boat the following morning. 

"It is entirely possible that some or all of the twelve whom we listed 
as 'missing' men had reached the shore of an adjacent island, or of the 
southern tip of Butaritari. This is the only explanation I can offer for the 
A.P. dispatch from Guam. If I had had knowledge that any Raiders 
remained on the island at the time we left, I would either have evacuated 
them or remained with them." 


"Jap destroyers," Charlie Lamb muttered. 

"Maybe it's our Navy," some one said. 

"What do we do, Colonel?" the coxswain called. 

"Keep headin' for the star," the reply came. 

Near the mouth of the lagoon, the water roughened and waves 
curled over the outrigger and rubber boats. The men at the stern 
spread themselves out over the motors to keep them dry. The sound 
of sput f spin, was their reward. 

It took them three hours to reach Flink Point, and every minute 
of it they expected to be attacked by Japs from a shore ambush or, 
what at this time their minds told them would even be worse, to 
have their raft sink under them. 

"We hung on to one another and to the raft," Le Francois wrote. 
"It pitched and tossed, and the rubber boats groaned as they beat 
and tore against one another. The current twisted us in the wrong 
direction, and the oarsmen strained and pulled us back on the right 
course again. The raid . . . boiled down to a piece of rubber be- 
tween me and eternity." 

As they passed through the south lagoon entrance into the ocean, 
Carlson hoping against hope that the subs were there, ordered 
Craven to flash his light. A sudden white stream of light came back 
at them from the Nautilus a dozen yards away. 

The Raiders dug their raft forward, tore at the lines coming from 
the Nautilus, clambered aboard shouting, crying, yelling trium- 
phantly. Forty hours had passed since they had left. 

Commander Haines grabbed Carlson and yelled, "Squeegie saved 
the day anyway." 

Carlson didn't argue with him. 

Below the little wardroom was cleared so that Doctor MacCracken 
could start operating on Lenz and Hawkins and Daniels and Le 
Francois. The sub's officers moved in with the crew and turned 
over their staterooms to the wounded. And for twenty-four hours, 
no one ate in the wardroom. 

Carlson had come to the last section of the report, RECOMMEN- 
DATIONS. He wrote: 


Perhaps the most important result of the raid was the experience 
gained . . . Some of the errors made have been noted. I would lil(c 
to list the following with recommendations for their correction. 

He suggested that a better radio be authorized; that there be no 
time limit set for withdrawal but that it should be determined by 
the commander ashore in accordance with the dictates of the situa- 
tion there. 

The present type of gasoline operated outboard motor is entirely 
inadequate. The possibilities of getting another motor must be ex- 
plored immediately. 

He wrote that he was more convinced than ever of the value of 
raids in the Pacific war. It was clear that the Japanese command had 
been confused. It did not know how the Americans got ashore, 
whether the attack was merely a raid or the spearhead of a large- 
scale invasion of the Gilberts. 

Even as he wrote, a message came from Admiral Nimitz's head- 
quarters informing him that a large Japanese Makin Relief Expedi- 
tion, consisting of over a thousand troops from the Marshalls landed 
on Makin the day after the Raiders had left. 

How did Nimitz know this? Nimitz had the Japanese code. He 
knew everything the Japs planned to do, including the plans for the 
Battle of Midway. 

The Makin Relief Expedition might have been a Guadalcanal 
Relief Expedition had the raid not been made. Our precarious 
fingerhold there might have been cut away. Carlson's attack "may 
have diverted considerable Japanese naval strength from the Guadal- 
canal area," Captain Garrett Graham stated in the Marine Corps 
Gazette of February 1943. 

Finally, 1 would invite the attention of all military leaders to the 
illustration provided by our situation on the night of August ijth 
which emphasized a truth that is as old as the military profession: 
no matter how bad your own situation may appear to be, there is 
always the possibility that the situation of the enemy is much worse. 

A on the 

Plans tor crossing tin- mountain and a in 

the Upper Liing;i Valley were 27, 


of the the 

A strategy session on the Upper Tenaru River, Guadalcanal 

Plans tor crossing the mountain ridge and attacking a Japanese base in 
the Upper Lunga Valley were made. November 27, 7942 

Official Photo U.S. Navy 

Some of the Raiders aboard the U.S.S. Nautilus 

On its arrival at Pearl Harbor from the Makin Raid. August 1042 


"Guadalcanal, probably," Dr. MacCracken said. 

The sub moved in closer to its mooring. 

"I don't see a transport," MacCracken said. 

From the shore came the sounds of a band playing the Marine 

"My God, a reception!" Haincs said. 

Lined up was a battalion of Marines, and in front of them at at- 
tention were Admiral Nimitz and Admiral Spruance, Marine Gen- 
eral Pickett and Army General Emmons. 

"More brass than in a foundry," Brockman said. 

The band played another chorus. 

The sub threw a line, and as it touched the pier, a great cheer 

Carlson felt excited and frowned. He didn't want a fuss made. 
Yet being human he couldn't help but like it. 

The Admirals and Generals boarded the sub. The congratulations 
were deeply felt. 

There were reporters and cameramen. They wanted an interview. 

"There isn't much to say," Carlson said. He felt tired. 

Then someone remembered the sword which Carlson had taken 
from the dead hand of the Japanese commander of Makin, and gave 
it to Carlson who, as protocol required, handed it to Haincs, the 
commander of the little task force. 

"Admiral Nimitz," Haines said, "here's a trophy from Makin on 
behalf of Colonel Carlson and his Raiders." 

Nimitz grinned like a boy on Christmas morning and showed 
the sword around to everyone. "First souvenir of the war," he said. 
"Damned good. Going to send it to the Academy museum." 

Reporters wanted to talk to Carlson. 

"Tomorrow," Nimitz said. "Let the man catch his breath." 

"Admiral, could I skip interviews even tomorrow?" Carlson 

Nimitz shook his head emphatically. "They're waiting to hear 
from you back in the States. Makin has made you and your Raider? 

Carlson protested. 


"I thought you wanted to let people know about Gung Ho," the 
, Admiral said with a grin. "You kept bending my ear with it." 

Carlson stopped frowning. He hated publicity and ballyhoo, but 
he believed in taking advantage of every opportunity to get his 
message to people. He turned to the reporters. "Okay, boys." 

The next day, Carlson called his battalion together. It was a fine 
clear day, and the men were glad to be alive, but more tired than 
they'd ever been at Makin or even on the way back. 

Carlson told them that he wanted this get-together so soon after 
their return because otherwise they might forget where they had 
made mistakes. And the purpose of the meeting was to see where 
they had made mistakes. 

The men were not bashful. 

Why did they have to get off the island that night, they asked. 

Why did the rubber boats and outboard motors fail them? (This 
was asked with passion and answered without equivocation.) 

Why didn't Carlson decide the time to leave the island instead of 
having it decided before the landing? He was the one who knew 
the situation best. 

And the gripes and criticisms were spoken out, and Carlson noted 
them down, though he, himself, had said much the same in his 
battle report. 

Could the battalion be improved, he asked. 

Sure. They needed more corpsmen, perhaps more light machine 
guns, more signal equipment, more knives . . . 

When the meeting was about over, he said that he would 
call them together again in a few days. 

"I think we ought to have a memorial meeting for those we left 
on Makin," he said. 

The men agreed. 

The day of the memorial meeting matched the spirit. It was a 
good day, warm and promising, almost like spring at home. The 
boys had fixed up a platform and decorations in an open field where 
they had always held their Gung Ho meetings. Carlson invited 


Nimitz and all the other ranking officers of the base, Army, Navy 
and Marine. Civilians were invited. A chaplain. There would be a 
small orchestra for hymns. 

Carlson had worked on his eulogy. He wanted it simple, out of 
his truest feelings, meaningful not only to the comrades of the dead, 
but to those others who had never known them. Above all, he 
hoped to be able to give to his own men a sense of what their sacri- 
fices must create in the world in which they died and lived. 

The guests arrived; the band played, and the battalion sang a 
hymn. The chaplain gave a benediction. Carlson went to the micro- 
phone. He glanced down at a sheet of paper in his hand. 

"We are gathered here today to honor the memory of our com- 
rades who remain at Makin." He paused and looked up directly at 
the men. "We miss them. Each had his special place among us, and 
that place is impcrishably his. Being human, we mourn the loss of 
each. But I believe that these gallant men who so eagerly, so will- 
ingly went forth to meet the enemy would not have us weep and 
bemoan their passing. They loved life, those comrades of ours. 
They were vital, eager, thoughtful and realistic. They had con- 
victions and they lived those convictions even to the point of sacri- 
ficing their lives." 

His voice was clear now and calm. The wind from the sea whipped 
back the loose khaki shirt and trousers and as he stood there, he 
seemed grayer and gaunter than ever before, yet somehow stronger, 
more lithe, even more youthful. His strong nose jutted out tri- 
umphantly. The deep-set unwavering blue eyes moved slowly over 
the ranks. To his men, he seemed, as he talked, like something out 
of all their pasts, their fathers, their teachers, their boyhood heroes, 
the Deerslayer and Abe Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. With the words 
and the tones of his voice he brought special remembrances; grace 
before meals, the prayer at school the day before Thanksgiving, 
gentleness and fervor, an encompassing warmth and love and 

His men loved him then with all the love they had ever known: 
Jimmy Roosevelt, feeling a high pride, Maghakian, the Armenian, 
Miller, Nelson, Drake, Al Flores who remembered his Mexican 


father in the words, Angel, Plumley, Gurman, Peatross, Big Smitty, 
and the guy from Chicago who talked about how tough he was, and 
Jessie Hawkins from South Gate who lived to get to the sub and 
whom they found walking after his operation. "I felt if I just walked, 
I would live," he had said. 

"They are still with us in spirit," he went on. "Allard with his 
boyish smile, Johnson with his strange scowl, Jerry Holtom with his 
lumbering stride and eager, half-embarrassed manner, and the others. 
You know the characteristics of each as well as I. Who will say that 
the spirit of all these men we knew so intimately does not remain 
with us? 

"It was not possible to render honors to these fallen comrades on 
the field of battle. I did what I could. I went to each as he lay with 
his face toward the enemy. I placed each on his back that he 
might rest more easily, and I said a silent prayer over each. With 
the native Gilbcrtcsc I arranged for each to be given a Christian 
burial. And so they lie there today, in the soil of that delightful 
South Pacific isle, beneath the palms under which they won their 

He made a simple gesture with his hands, spreading the paper be- 
tween his fingers, glanced down at it, then rested his eyes again on 
the faces in front of him. 

"It behooves us who remain to redcdicate ourselves to the task 
that lies ahead. The convictions of these comrades are our convic- 
tions. With the memory of their sacrifice in mind, let us here dedicate 
ourselves to the task of bringing into reality the ideals for which they 
died; that their sacrifice will not have been in vain. 

"We salute you, comrades. We salute you as Raiders, as Marines, 
as Americans, as men! God bless you!" 

He stood there a moment at attention; then saluted his battalion, 
wheeled around and took his place with the staff. 

The Sergeant Major gave a command, and the battalion was dis- 

The men said very little, but returned to their tents and lay down 
on their sacks and were silent, most of them. They felt sad, and 
yet withal, angry. Their anger was resolve and decision. Allard and 


Holtom and Earles and Thomason and Macicjewski must not have 
died in vain. That is what they thought. 


Who is this man? 

On Guadalcanal, months later. Admiral Nimitz was there; Major 
General Vandegrift of the Marine First Division had a citation in 
his hand. He looked up solemnly at Carlson, and read: 

"The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting 
the Navy Cross Star, to be worn with the Navy Cross awarded 
October i, 1931, to Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson, United 
States Marine Corps Reserve, for service as set forth in the following 

"For extraordinary heroism and distinguished service as Com- 
manding Officer of the Second Marine Raider Battalion against 
enemy Japanese forces on Makin Island. In the first operation of 
this type ever conducted by United States forces, Lieutenant Colonel 
Carlson personally directed his forces in the face of intense fire of 
enemy ground troops and aerial bombing barrage, inflicting great 
personnel and material damage on the enemy. In the withdrawal of 
his forces under adverse sea conditions . . ." 

Seven faces . . . 

"... he displayed outstanding resourcefulness, initiative and 
resolute purpose in evacuating all wounded and disabled men." 

Lenz with the bullet in the brain lived; Hawkins and Le Francois 
and Daniels and Lamb lived. 

"His high courage and excellent leadership throughout the en- 
gagement were in keeping with the finest traditions of the United 
States Naval Service. 

"For the President, Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy." 


General Vandegrift handed Carlson the citation, and Nimitz 
pinned on him the Navy Cross and said, "Carlson, I hope I have 
the chance to pin many more of these on you." 

"Thank you, Admiral," Carlson said. "On behalf of . . ." 

On behalf of them all, of all the dead and wounded and terrorized, 
on behalf of the sacrifice, on behalf of the years lost in those forty 
hours, the longing, the loneliness, the fear. 

On behalf of seven men, and on behalf of the five who gave their 
lives in the greater glory. 

On behalf of the answer to the question: "God in Heaven, what 
am I doing here?" 

Others were decorated, many others. 

And we may well ask what were these men. Out of what sources 
of America did they come? 

Out of what did this one man come? Where is the connection 
between Norway, the California Sierras, Vermont, and Nicaragua, 
North China and the Makin atoll? 

Trace back the strain and the blood, the single scrawl of a life 
in the midst of infinite scrawls, the curves of learning and error 
and heartbreak and heartsease. 

"His men followed him into this dangerous mission because they 
believed in him," wrote one who followed him. 

Out of what did he come? 

Part Two 

The horn of God 

Evans Carlson was born in Sidney, New York on February 26, 
1896, but he grew up in three New England towns: Shoreham, Ver- 
mont; Dracut, Massachusetts; and Peacham, Vermont. 

He was fourteen when he left New England, but fourteen years 
are long enough to make a Yankee. 

Twice he ran away from home. Once, when he was eleven, he 
came back. The second time was for good. 

For as long as he could remember, he had a hunger for adventure, 
for being on his own, for making his way in the world by himself. 

There were stories of adventure in his own home: the Carlson 
who had left Norway not so many years ago; the Carlson his 
grandfather who had panned gold and silver in the High Sierras 
and who had died in 1901 in Dawson City, and his Uncle Matt 
Carlson who was a United States Marshal in Fairbanks. . . . And 
his mother's family the Evanses, who claimed, like all Welsh- 
men, to be descendants of the forever ennobled Welsh Kings. 

The villages he lived in poured out adventure. Shoreham, Ver- 
mont, was Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold and the French and 
Indian War country. . . . Peacham, Vermont, was the country of 
Rogers's Rangers and where Thaddeus Stevens, who adventured 
with heart and tongue, lived as a boy. 


The stream flowed unending from the books he read: Mark Twain 
and G. A. Hcnty and Horatio Algcr and Fenimore Cooper. 

And as if this were not enough, he heard people talking of 
Admiral Peary and the North Pole, Teddy Roosevelt and Darkest 

Evans Carlson ran away from home twice but he never truly 
left his home. 

A man's home and his people are shadows that walk out with 
him wherever he goes. 

As a boy, Evans Carlson knew the adventures of his father's life. 
He knew that Thomas Carlson, the son of a Norwegian forty-niner, 
was born in 1865 in a community of mining shacks in a cleft of the 
High Sierras. The silver miners shared their legends with the boy, 
and christened him Tommy, though his real name was Thorstein. 
They made much of the fact that his middle name was Alpine, 
after Alpine County, California. They delighted in the knowl- 
edge that little Tommy had been the first white child born in that 

Tom Carlson liked to tell his children about the trip which his 
family took in 1875 from Silver Mountain, California to southern 
Wisconsin. There were talcs of Indians and armies of locusts and 
buffalo herds. 

The Carlson children, E\ans and Karen, his sister, and Dana and 
Tom, Jr. (when he was old enough to understand) would listen 
enviously as their father told them his stories in the big warm winter 
kitchen at Shoreham, or at Peacham, or perhaps while they walked 
together on a June Saturday afternoon to Larabee's Point on Lake 
Champlain, or maybe while he poured the fresh maple sugar on 
the snow for their beloved "sugar-on-snow." They listened and they 
looked at him, and though they believed every word he said, as if it 
were revelation, yet they did not easily connect this tall, thin, quiet, 
humble man with all those young days when he had seen war- 
painted Indians dance. 

Evans, of course, was convinced that such excitement and peril 
were not dead forever. He would have them some place, some kind, 


perhaps even more thrilling. But he would have them! On this 
score, at least, he could equal his father. 

On a warm June day in 1944, at Sherman, Connecticut, to a meet- 
ing of clergymen, Thomas Carlson recited the story of the fifty years 
of his ministry and the struggle for spiritual clarity. His speech lasted 
fully an hour, and it was characteristic of his humility and modesty 
that he could tell the story of his life without once using "I" or 
"me" or "mine." 

(How like Gung Ho this is! How the patterns repeat!) 

"It was not a notable ministry," Thomas Carlson remarked at 
Sherman. "This is said without compunction or regret." 

Nothing but a small parish house . . . the white church . . . the 
bitter bounty of congregations that were not always generous, and 
frequently so impoverished that Carlson had to support a family 
of five on $30 a month. . . . Nothing but the weekly sermon in 
which, at inspired moments, he spoke out the love of his heart, and 
at tired moments heard himself, as if in an empty room, repeat old 

Thomas Carlson first heard the horn of God when he was still 
a child in Silver Mountain. His mother was deeply religious and 
a strict disciplinarian. The Old Testament Jehovah was the rod in 
her strong right hand. Later when his family moved to a Norwegian 
community in southern Wisconsin, Tom Carlson's gram mother 
taught him his Lutheran prayers in the ancestral Nors/{. Here he 
was formally christened, and he still remembers Pastor Gjcrtson, 
robed in black, with the ruffled, white preste krage around his neck. 

Back in Oakland, California a few years later, Thomas Carlson 
devotedly attended the Moody and Sankey missions, and at the Oak- 
land High School organized the first Christian Endeavor Society 
on the Pacific Coast. He wanted to become a preacher, but he wanted 
first to get a general education. He hoped to go to the University of 
California, but there wasn't enough money to send him. Instead he 
took a job as a bookkeeper in a small store in the little town of 
Port Orford, Oregon, 


In 1890, when he was 25, he panaged to enter the San Francisco 
Theological Seminary. Later he transferred to the Seminary in 
Auburn, New York, where "the black tincture of a severe theology" 
was somewhat diluted. When he took his first parish at Sidney, 
New York, he was determined to reform his parishioners as quickly 
as possible. Unfortunately his parishioners were not quite as eager 
to be reformed, and so he soon moved to another church, this time 
near Middlebury, Vermont. It was a good move for him, for here 
he could satisfy his old dream of going to college. His sermons also 
by this time had become more understanding. 

After Middlebury he moved to a church at Shoreham, Vermont, 
near Lake Champlain. Here he came face to face with the greatest 
crisis of his spiritual life. 

Everywhere eminent ministers, stimulated by the works of 
Darwin, Rcnan and William James, began to question the story of 
the miraculous birth of Christ. It was becoming clear to many devout 
Christians that the Bible had not been recorded, as John Donne put 
it, by "the secretaries of the Holy Ghost." 

Thomas Carlson's peace of mind was shattered by this "higher 

His peace was broken constantly by questions. What was the 
Bible? What was the source of its inspiration? How many "jots and 
tittles" could be changed without utterly destroying it? Was William 
James right when he suggested that the test of the faith in God was 
how much practical value it had? Was Christ divine? Was the 
Bible pure revelation; to be taken literally as the Fimdamentalists 

There were times when the world seemed to be slipping away 
from him; when there seemed to be no authority anywhere; when 
he could not understand even his simplest motives. His Sunday 
sermons were becoming shorter and shorter. 

He fought his fight in solitude and under great difficulties. For 
several months he was sick with typhoid; his wife, Joetta, was re- 
peatedly ill; and four children had to be taken care of. 

Finally, help began to come his way. Dr. George A. Gordon, the 
minister of the New Old South Church in Boston had written a 


book, The Ultimate Conceptions of Faith, which matched Carlson's 
conflict with his own. Henry Churchill King's Rational Living and 
Coe's Religion of a Mature Mind dispelled more of the darkness. He 
met and heard Edward Everett Hale who "saw God in the new 
gaslights" and who could redeem the new learning by seeing it in 

Bit by bit, he shaped together a rational basis for his thinking and 

"The outcome of it all," he told his fellow clergymen that June day 
in Sherman, "was the great discovery that, like the Lord and Master, 
the Book is both human and divine, and that the divine must be 
followed through its human ramifications." 

Thomas Carlson's battle was won. He knew now what to believe 
and what to preach and how to live. His days, from thence onward, 
would be simple, day by day fulfillment of the ministry of souls. 
As the years passed he would go from Shoreham parish to Peacham, 
and from Peacham to Plymouth, Connecticut; he would see his son, 
Dana, die, and his wife die; his son, Evans, leave home and make 
his own way in the world by himself, neither as minister nor 
doctor nor lawyer, but as a soldier. He would tend his congregations 
and give them the strength of his words and his acts, and when the 
time came for him to retire, as it did in 1944, he would say that his 
life could perhaps be best summed up in the words of the servant of 
Abraham who set out blindly to find a wife for his master's son. 
Returning successful, he said reverently, "I, being in the way, the 
Lord led me." 

To say then, in examining the sources of Evans Carlson's life, 
that he was the son of an impoverished Congregationalist minister 
would not be enough. To say that his home was strict, that he was 
brought up with hymns and grace before meals and Bible readings 
and Sunday School and sermons and lectures on the Holy Land 
with stereopticon views thrown on a screen by a carbide lamp pro- 
jector which made the Holy Land seem even more forbidding than 
it is is only part of the truth. To say that he had to be a model 
boy as the son of the town minister, and that he hated it, would still 
not give us the answer. 


No, his father was no routine Christian. He had a deeply in- 
grained Christly love of men. He was as his son remembers in 
after years the only truly practicing Christian he had ever known. 

But it is hard to he the son of a practicing Christian. Evans felt 
that he could never be his father's equal, that even at his best he 
would fall far below his father's hopes for him. It was better then 
to be on his own, to make his own way. 


"Good marks for lightning" 

What then of Evans's mother, Joctta? 

"She was, in Scripture language," her husband said, "well-favored, 
of singular poise and self-possession; her eyes blue and expressive, 
her hair, naturally dark, was gray at an early age and I never knew 
it otherwise. She was of medium height and well-proportioned. Her 
complexion was fresh and transparent, and even in her later years 
she was known as a woman of singular attractiveness and charm. 
This arose in some measuie, no doubt, from her watchful considera- 
tion for others. She was the oldest child in her family; and upon the 
death of her mother, when Joetta was twenty-three, she mothered 
the household." 

Evans was close to his father, and his mother suffered for it. They 
were always misunderstanding each other. He was self-conscious 
about being the grandchild of Norwegian immigrants on his 
father's side. And she was always reminding him that her family 
had come to this country long before the Revolution. There were 
the McNabs, the Schraders and the Fordyces. And, of course, the 
Evanses. He saw the even more painful contrast between his father's 
constant struggle to keep the family fed and clothed and the ease of 


some o the relatively well-to-do members of the Evanses. The only 
one of his mother's family he genuinely admired as a boy was his 
mother's brother, a United States Treasury man in San Francisco. 
Uncle Charlie was a real Colonel in the California National Guard 
and not an "Honorary Colonel" like so many Evanses who were 
given ratings by their native Virginia. 

The boy bridled every time his mother corrected his table manners 
with "Evans, that isn't the way it's done in the best families." Duti- 
fully he would say, "Yes, ma'am," but he hated her Evans superiority 
and wondered angrily why the Carlsons, in this rectory kitchen, 
were not as good as the "best families." 

Joetta Carlson had a real taste for painting fragile and sensitive 
water colors. She loved flowers and put them in her garden even be- 
fore she got around to vegetables. She played the piano well, and 
had the patience to teach her children. But even these virtues the 
boy did not take to kindly. Her very delicacy underscored, in his 
eyes, her family pride. 

It is no wonder, therefore, that young Evans took the opposite 
side from his mother in every issue. She and her family were great 
detesters of Theodore Roosevelt and called him "That Man!" And 
so Teddy became the great hero of his youth. And who else but 
Jack London, then, would be the boy's favorite author? And what 
other novel of his but Martin Eden? Didn't Martin scorn the snobs 
in San Francisco (where many of the Evanses lived) ? Didn't he 
prove himself better than the wealthy and respectable? 

Evans, at- eleven, had read many of his father's books Scott 
and Thackeray and Cooper but not one compared with Martin 

"The burden of ministry," Joetta's husband said, "was freely 
shared by a helpmate whom only the grace of God could have pro- 
vided. A beautiful woman with a contralto voice that was like velvet; 
an accomplished pianist; an artist of no mean calibre; an experi- 
enced housekeeper and homemaker, and long a devoted church 
worker. . . . She proved to be an unusual organizer and leader. . . . 
There is a saying that you cannot draw blood from a turnip. She 


drew blood from many turnips in the course of this ministry, from 
church societies that were marking time or were meagerly fruitful. 
Like the rock that Moses smote, they all became joyous producers 
of abundance. Unfortunately, like church steeples, the women of 
the parsonage are good marks for lightning. Those who dare it, 
some time or other, receive the stroke. In the smaller churches which 
are many, they bear the stress of household management with 
slender means. They are the real heroes of the ministry." 

Evans didn't know all this then. He didn't know, for example, 
that his mother had lost the uncertain friendship of some of the 
parishioners because she would not join the Daughters of the 
American Revolution. "I don't believe in that kind of pride," she 

Even if he had known, he wouldn't have understood, for didn't 
his mother speak with "that kind of pride" about her ancestor, 
Captain Jack Evans, who had fought the Great Revolution on 
General Washington's staff? 

As a boy, Evans Carlson wanted to make the Carlson in him 
better than the Evans. 


All of his best friends . . . 

In 1908 Thomas Carlson had the Dracut, Massachusetts, Con- 
gregational Church at the corner of Bridge and Arlington Streets. 
It was an odd-looking, clapboard building with an open belfry. 

They had moved from Shoreham to Dracut, a suburb of Lowell, 
because Joetta wasn't well and needed better medical care, and be- 
cause Thomas thought his children could go to better schools. For 
the first time, they lived in a house that had electricity and an inside 
toilet. For the first time, they lived in a city with paved streets and 


stores and horsecars. There was a huge textile mill only a few blocks 
away. Evans was sent to the Parker Avenue Grammar School. 

Dracut was no success for any of the family. His mother grew 
worse; the kids picked up the measles, and Evans, after the measles, 
came down with rheumatic fever. But for Evans, being ill was 
nothing compared with his unhappiness at having left Shoreham. 
There he could move around, feel part of the open country, take a 
deep breath, picnic and hike, swim in the ponds or over at Larabee's 
Point on Lake Champlain. There was a different smell to Shoreham, 
and a different sound. He felt less independent in a city. 

But more than any of this, at Dracut he became aware of his 
family's poverty. It often came down to the question of not having 
enough to eat or at least that is how the boy understood it. He 
was conscious even at that time that he was another mouth to feed, 
and being the oldest he felt that the time must come soon when he 
would have to relieve his father of some of his burden. 

Tom Carlson had a sense of what was, in part, troubling his son. 
He found an opportunity one week to take a trip with him. They 
rented bikes and rode to Boston. 

This was an important experience for Evans. Here, with his 
father, in Boston he saw with his own eyes the stuff of which his 
school books had been made. It was always what he had needed 
to see with his own eyes, to feel history on his skin like rain or heat 
or cold. Boston was history, even more so than the Green Mountain 
Boys country of Shoreham, for the Green Mountain Boys were 
dead and so also was Benedict Arnold, and Fort Ticonderoga was 
silent and its guns breechless. And more than that, he took his 
backyard history for granted. But Boston! Even the spreading 
chestnut tree still grew. The church where Paul Revere had hung 
his lanterns was still worshipped in. There was something about 
the Old South Church and Faneuil Hall that was still alive and 
sounding. To him Boston was Emerson, his father's favorite writer. 

He was shown the Boston Tea Party tablet on Atlantic Avenue 
near Griffin's Wharf, and the Common, where there was quite a 
crowd listening to the speakers. Bill Heywood's name was flung 


about like a challenge he who had been accused of the assassina- 
tion of Governor Steurenberg of Idaho. The crowd jeered the name 
of the police spy, McParland; and everyone cheered at the names of 
Eugene V. Debs and Clarence Darrow. . . . There were other 
speakers who warned of a depression to come, and who blamed it 
on the trusts. 

It was exciting to hear all the talk, the charges and denunciations 
and the flinging of names. 

And, finally, the two of them, father and son, stood in front of 
William Lloyd Garrison's statue. The boy, big for his age, but only 
half the height of his broad-shouldered father, read aloud in un- 
certain, schoolboyish syllables: "I am in earnest. I will not e-quiv-o- 
cate. I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch. And I will be 

"Garrison," his father explained, "hated slavery. Like Abraham 
Lincoln. They thought it was evil. It was . . ." He paused. "And is." 

The boy was not to know until later, in China, how much he 
had read into those few days in Boston; he was not to know that 
somehow he had seen beneath the surface and had felt the life of 
Democracy. He was a New England boy, and Boston was New 
England's heart. Without knowing it, he would be seeking to find 
Boston again, and New England, and America for as long as he 
lived. He would not know he was seeking it, but something in 
Nicaragua, something on the face of Mao Tse-tung or in the slow 
smile of Chu Teh or in the songs he would hear from ten thousand 
Chinese throats, would bring it back to him. He would remember 
Faneuil Hall in Managua; he would close his eyes momentarily 
against the dust of Yenan, and remember the Court House and the 
Meeting House and the Adamses' place on Mount Vernon Street 
and William Lloyd Garrison's statue. 

Before they left Boston for home, they looked in at Harvard. 

"We'd like to send you here some day," Thomas Carlson said. 
"Here or Middlebury. Your mother and I would like you to get 
a college education. It's very important to have. A man with a col- 


lege degree can become a doctor or lawyer or a great author/' 
Evans wondered whether Jack London had ever gone to college. 
But whether or not, the boy was thoroughly impressed by his 
father's words. Someday, he promised himself, he would go to col- 
lege but only after he had made his own way in the world. How 
else? Certainly his father didn't have the money to send him. 

His family's poverty and his own yearning for an education are 
reflected in a little invention he wrote at the Parker Avenue Gram- 
mar School when he was twelve. It is titled "What I Would Do 
With a Million Dollars." 

When my grandfather died he left me a fortune of a million 
dollars. Mother and I had been living alone with barely enough 
to eat. I had been obligued to leave school and go to work to 
keep up the expences, while mother had nearly ruined her 
eyes by sewing by lamplight. 

After this fortune came upon us so suddenly I decided to 
take a college course as I had been perparing to do so when 
I left school and finally persuaded mother to take a house up- 
town. After a conversation with mother I decided to go to 
Harvard college for two years. 

After completing my work at Harvard I decided to study 
abroad as I expected to be a professor of Liturature. After two 
years of studying in foreign countries I returned and excepted 
the position of Professor of Liturature in Yale College. 

This typically American, Horatio Alger dream of an education 
stayed with Evans Carlson, in one form or another, during the 
years to come. But despite his will for it he would never be quite 
able to make it come true. The dream, however, illumined the 
whole of his life. 

ljhe trip to Boston did not halt Evans's restlessness. In February 
he ran away from Dracut. He left the day before his twelfth birth- 
day, for he didn't want to wait until he received his presents. His 
conscience told him it wouldn't have been fair. 

He had $2.34 with him when he left Dracut, money he had put 
aside from chores and doing the neighbors' lawns. The fare to 


Boston was thirty-five cents. He didn't tarry there. Boston had be- 
come too close to him, too close to home since he had seen so much 
there with his father. No not Boston would be the world, but 
Portland, Maine. 

Boat from Boston to Portland one dollar. One piece of pie on 
the boat five cents. Total left: ninety-four cents. You couldn't go 
very far in the world on ninety-four cents, and Evans decided not to 
spend any more until he had earned something. 

It was a cold day when he arrived in Portland and he tried find- 
ing a job, but unemployment had hit the Maine city, and there 
were not many jobs for a boy when men were starving. That night 
he moved along the docks looking for a hideaway. He was cold and 
hungry. Most of all, he was sleepy. 

He found a wharf where they had been loading coal. A pile o 
empty coal sacks made a dirty bed but a bed. They also made a 

He was awakened in the morning by a little boy who persuaded 
him to come to his house to get warm and eat some breakfast. The 
boy's mother a Mrs. Goldstein who was a widow with five chil- 
dren welcomed him kindly. When the oldest boy said the grace 
in Hebrew, Evans said he had heard his father read that language 
from books. Mrs. Goldstein asked him if he were Jewish. 

"I'm a Congregationalist," Evans replied. 

"We're Jewish," the woman said. 

Evans was puzzled. He had never known a real Jew. "I thought 
all the Jews were in the Bible," he said. 

The kids laughed, but Mrs. Goldstein said slowly, "No, some o 
us are still around." 

After breakfast, the woman tried to get Evans to tell her who 
he was and where he came from, but he was too smart for her. He 
knew she'd get in touch with his father, and he kept his secrets. |>he 
pleaded with him to go back home and if he didn't, she invited 
him to come back to her house whenever he was hungry. 

Evans left the Goldsteins with a deep gratitude which, like the 
experience with his father in Boston, would rise to the surface of his 
actions in later years. Even had he not been brought up in a genu- 


inely Christian home with all that means in toleration and under- 
standing of other people and creeds, these people alone, the first 
Jews he had ever seen, with their warmth and generosity to a run- 
away boy who, admittedly or not, was a little scared and even more 
homesick, would have sown in him a hatred of anti-Semitism. In 
later years, it wasn't that some of his best friends were Jews; it was 
that all of his best friends were people. 

He got a job that day at the Portland Star Match Factory, 
running a block of wood through a series of saws that notched it 
into match-heads. His pay was six dollars a week for a twelve-hour 
day six days a week. 

Mrs. Goldstein's words about his father and mother bothered him. 
He did not like the thought that he was worrying them, causing 
them grief and hurt. This was going too far. He decided that as soon 
as he made a little money something to show for himself he 
would go back. Unfortunately, the Portland Star Match Company 
even in a depression was having trouble keeping workers at 
low wages, and he had to work three weeks before the first pay 
day. He had ninety-four cents for twenty-one days. 

His partner at the machine a quiet old man who taught him 
how to work it became Evans's confidant. The old man, who lived 
alone in an attic room, told Evans he could sleep on the floor, and 
that he would be glad to lend him a dollar when needed. 

During the three weeks, Evans's pride fought with his stomach 
and won. He sustained himself on five cents' worth of pastries a 
day pastries because they looked and tasted rich and seemed to 
fill him up. He did not borrow from the old man, nor did he return 
to the Goldsteins. If he was to make his own way, he decided that's 
what he ought to do, not borrow or take charity or even be helped 
by kindliness. 

But, finally, his stomach got the better of his farm-boy, outdoor 
constitution and at the end of the three weeks he was sick. He 
couldn't even keep the pastries down. The old man wanted to send 
him to a hospital. But with an enormous stubbornness "I am in 
earnest. I will not e-quiv-o-cate!"--he bought a new shirt and a 


new pair of pants and a ticket for Dracut. He had made up his 
mind to go home and he would go. The new clothes might help 
hide the fact that his adventure had not been a success. 

The three weeks had been a severe ordeal for the Carlson family, 
but most of all for Joetta. She and Thomas had tried to find him; 
they had gone as far as Boston; they had enlisted the police and the 
State agencies. For awhile they thought he might be dead, though 
Thomas believed in Evans's ability to take care of himself and he 
tried to console his wife. But she was beyond his words. Somehow 
she felt responsible. If Evans had not been happy at home, it was 
her fault. If he had been more restless than most boys his age, it 
was her fault. She had not understood him and helped him. If he 
had wanted adventure so much, she should have been able to divert 
his dreams and energy to something at home. She was sick at the 
loss; bone-sick at what she thought was her failure. She did not 
forgive Evans, it is true; but mostly she did not forgive herself. 
Her nights were without sleep and though she tried hard to keep 
it from the children, they heard her weep. There was no solace for 
her, not even her husband whom she loved. Evans had hurt her 
beyond repair, she said. Evans was willful and capricious. 

She was right. 

Joetta sat upon her bed that Sabbath morning, life beyond the 
window as aloof as the life she seemed no longer to feel within her. 
The house was empty. Her husband and children had gone to 
church. They had told people Evans was off visiting somewhere. 
Then as if the world of sounds had combined into a footstep, she 
heard her oldest son at the door. 

"Evans is here! Evans is home!" she cried as if everybody was 
there to hear her. 

Evans did not get a whipping. He had gotten a few in the past, 
but now he was too grownup. He was punished enough by seeing 
how much he had hurt his mother and father. His father said, when 
all the talking and explaining was over, that Evans had committed 
a sin. "Anything that hurts others is a sin," his father said. 

The boy went outside into the cold, snow-covered night, walked 
down to his father's church on Arlington Street, not knowing where 


he was walking, and leaning against the yellow clapboard wept in 
shame for the first time in his life. And for the last time. 


His foot in his hand 

In 1910 his family moved from Dracut out into the country to 
Peacham, Vermont, near St. Johnsbury and the Connecticut River. 
But the boy still rebelled, still longed for adventure, still got into 
school scrapes and home scrapes, but he was old enough to make a 
decision, to keep it, and yet not to hurt the people he loved. 

Peacham could not keep the boy. It was too serene, too rustic and- 
languorous. Only, in later years, would he remember with longing 
the rich-smelling meadows, the slow-moving and cool Connecticut 
River, the green peaks of the mountains, the old mills and granaries, 
the cool and clean ponds set deep in the hills, the wonderful peace 
in the gleaming white Congregational Church that had been built 
in the 1790'$. 

Peacham couldn't hold the boy. It was no longer an impulse that 
drove him out, but a considered judgment. He knew it and his 
mother and father knew it. It was simply a question of time before 
the tide of wanting to be on his own would flood through him 

The time at Peacham was preparation. 

He read more than ever before. 

"Man is his own star . . . Our acts our angels are . . ." This 
from the Beaumont and Fletcher quote at the head of Emerson's 
essay on "Self-Reliance." . . , And from the essay itself: 

A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont [who else 
could that be?] who in turn tries all the professions, who teams 
it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, 


goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive 
years, and always like a cat falls on his feet, is worth a hundred 
of these city dolls. 

How well Emerson knew! Always to fall on one's feet . . . But 
always to try ... 

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept 
the place the divine providence has found for you, the society 
of your contemporaries, the connection of events. 

Traveling is a fool's paradise . . . 

No, on this, Evans disagreed with Emerson. The old boy couldn't 
be right all the time. On this score, Emerson was not as wise as Mark 
Twain and Jack London, Evans concluded. 

There was another kind of book he read biography and 
autobiography. It didn't matter who the subject was Jefferson or 
Lincoln divine or politician swindler or explorer. He read to 
find the answer to one question: What was the first step these men 
took which decided the failure or success of their lives ? Was it when 
they left home, or when they took their first job or when they left 
their first job for another? Or was it something they had learned 
from an older man or from some book they had read ? In everyone's 
life there was some one step, the boy thought, which was the step. 
If he could learn from others, he would know when the moment 
had arrived for himself. His father preached many sermons on 
successful living, scolding those who "gave in" to worldly tempta- 
tion in order to grow wealthy and powerful and famous. His father 
preached selflessness. 

Yes. But it was hard to be selfless. 

The time for Evans's departure from home was set not so much 
by himself as by the Peacham Academy * school board. The school's 
bell rope had been cut. And not for the first time. 

It would be reasonable to assume, after all these years, that the 

1 Less pretentiously known as the Caledonia County Grammar School. 


principal immediately suspected the son of the Reverend Mr, Carl- 
son. But it is equally reasonable to assume that if he did suspect him, 
he could not easily make a point of it. Thus, every^ possible suspect 
but Evans was gravely cross-examined. Evans knew all this because 
he listened in on the principal's office from another room via an 
open heating vent. 

There is no record of what exactly made up his mind to confess 
that he was the chief culprit. It may have been that he feared some- 
one was going to snitch on him anyway, or that someone else was 
getting all the blame. At any rate, young Carlson made a decision, 
walked into the principal's office and, with perhaps just a touch of 
bravado, confessed. 

It was the considered and by no means unexpected judgment of 
the board that the son of a preacher should be made to suffer more 
than a layman's son. How else did children learn except by the 
example of others? The Reverend Carlson's son had to be that 
example. He was, therefore, suspended from attending Peacham 
Academy for one year! 

Evans was relieved. 

But his father fought the decision of the board. He thought it was 
excessive and therefore unjust. 

There was something else in it something that struck cruelly 
at the Carlson home and at his son's future. The school board 
couldn't know, of course, that when it prohibited Evans from at- 
tending school for a year, it was cutting away the last excuse for 
keeping him home. But the father knew that well. He had seen his 
son's restlessness. 

"We can't keep Evans home now," he said to Joetta. "He's going 
to leave us again." 

His wife was silent. 

"It's not your fault, Joetta," he said. "It's no one's fault. Evans is 
a good boy. But his spirit is restless. He broke away from us once 
before and found that he could take care of himself. There won't 
be peace for him or for us until he breaks away again." 

She listened quietly and agreed. But it was not a happy thing to 
have a son leave so early, so soon, so young. Of course, there were 


the other children, Dana and Karen and Tom, Jr. But Evans was 
her first-born. It may have been sinful to think, but there was a 
special love she bore for this son, and now there was a special pain. 

Thomas and Joetta agreed that they would not say anything to 
Evans. They would neither encourage nor discourage him to leave. 
But they would let him know, to the best of their ability, that they 
had confidence in him whatever he did. 

"Let him work out his own salvation,'* Thomas said. "He'll know 
what we've done and he'll appreciate it." 

The picnic that Saturday afternoon was at Martin's Pond. The day 
was June and good and warm. The kids wanted to go swimming but 
Evans said he didn't feel like it. At about four o'clock Evans went 
over to his father and mother, and told them he was going home. 

"I've got some chores to do," he said. 

His mother was wearing a blue dress with small white polka dots. 
His father was in shirt sleeves, his collar was open. 

They said they'd see him later, and he went off slowly past the 
pond. Tom, Jr., was digging in the mud. 

"Find anything?" Evans asked. 

"I'm workin' on it," Tom said. "Got three worms now." 

He left the pond and walked up the hill toward a stand of maples. 
Dana and Karen were racing among the trees. He could hear 
Karen's lusty, boyish yells, and Dana's heavy breathing. 

Evans yelled to them that he'd see them later. 

Up the hill to the road home. The top ridges of the White Moun- 
tains across the near-by border never seemed sharper. He felt he 
could almost cut a loaf of bread on the edges. He turned back again 
to look down at the pond and the maples and his father and mother. 

He thought that he ought to tell them that he was going, but he 
was afraid. He was afraid that he'd have to explain all the reasons 
why and they were too many and too difficult. And besides, he 
couldn't even understand all his reasons himself. He'd better just 
go away without explaining. He wished it could have been other- 


"He took his foot in his hand," as the old Vermonters have it, 
and started off for Vergennes across the state, seventy miles away. 
The first night, at a farmhouse near Marshfield in the quarry 
country, he borrowed a pencil and a sheet of ruled paper, and wrote 
a letter to his mother. He told her not to worry, and that he would 
let her know, as often as he could, just where he was, what he was 
doing and how he felt. He said he would not be home again for 
at least seven years. He picked the number because it sounded like 
something he had read in a book. 

He would not be home again to stay for thirty years. 


Winding through corridors 

"Trust the instinct to the end," Emerson wrote, "though you 
can render no reason." 

For the next twenty years of his life, Evans Carlson trusted his 

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself," the Concord wise 
man told the young boy. "Nothing can bring you peace but the 
triumph of principles." 

His instinct sought out the principles by which he wanted to live. 
The New England within him bred in his bones the conviction that 
life was not just an intermission of existence but a passage of 

He tried many things. 

It was as if he had been placed in a gigantic maze, and his years 
were spent winding through corridors, butting up against dead 
ends, moving ahead, backtracking, always trying to find a way out 
to the reward box. And even while he moved in a trial and error 
way, the maze was teaching him how to live and the reward box 


was being filled, without his knowing it, with additional goals he 
had not dreamed of either wanting or achieving. 

If at the commencement of these years he sought an adventurous 
life, at their end he was to begin his search for a useful one. 

When he first left Peacham, he had his independence but he 
didn't know what to do with it. He figured, first, he ought to 
finish up high school. He wanted to show his folks that his running 
away did not mean that he was entering a wilderness of "doin' as 
he darn well pleased." Going to school, on his own, would prove 
that he was capable of self -discipline. 

For two years he went to the Vergennes High School, earning 
his own way by working for a farmer named Clark who knew 
the Carlsons. At other times he worked as a baggage-smasher for 
the Rutland Railroad at New Haven Junction. Here he learned to 
be a railroad telegrapher, for who could tell maybe that's what 
he would become. 

Once, his father saw him at New Haven Junction. Evans was 
piling mail sacks into a train. He didn't see his father watching 

How grown-up he looks! Thomas Carlson thought. How strong 
and capable! How good it would be to take him home again. . . . 
At least, to talk to him. Joetta would like him to do that. She 
would expect him to do that. And it would be good for her. , . . 

The father wrestled with himself. Would it be good for the boy? 
Might he not think he was being spied upon ? He would be wrong 
but might he not feel that his independence was being threat- 
ened? How to speak to him without bringing up old, baseless, yet 
confirmed resentments? He could tell him that he had stopped 
there by accident. But was it really by accident? He had known 
where Evans was working. The boy himself had written home 
telling them. No, it was not by chance that he was there. He had 
turned his horse down the Junction road, pretending to stop in to 
see the Barrowses nearby, knowing in his heart the Barrowses 
would not be home. 

The father decided not to indulge himself. Let Evans not know 


he had seen him. Maybe in later years, when they could sit around 
with the past under their feet, he would tell him. 
Thomas Carlson climbed into his buggy and rode away. 

1912. Two years of high school were over. He wanted no more 
of it. 2 What now? Baggage-smashing? Telegraphy? Farming? A 
writer on a newspaper? 

He had thought once before about becoming a writer. It was 
after he had read Martin Eden. He wrote a novel, a long one, too. 
It turned out to be almost exactly like Martin Eden. He decided 
then that he'd better wait until he had his own experiences before 
writing again. And besides, his father had told him that a man 
had to be a college graduate to become a writer. 

Where to now? There was always "Uncle" Orville Kellogg. 

Orville and Beth Kellogg lived in Newark, New Jersey. They 
were not related to the Carlsons. Beth Kellogg, however, was 
Joetta's oldest friend, and they had exchanged visits during the 
years. Orville was a civil engineer with the Lackawanna Railroad. 

Why not be a civil engineer? the boy asked himself. He could 
go all around the world engineering, in the open, not in the cities. 

Or, if not an engineer, what about going to Annapolis? Join 
the Navy and see the world. He was still a mite too young, they told 
him at the Vergennes Post Office. 

So be it: it was civil engineering. 

Orville Kellogg got him a job as a chainman on a Lackawanna 
surveying gang, and registered him at a Newark night school. 
Evans learned surveying, but he stopped going to the school after 
the first month. With the men on the job, he tried to be as good a 
man as they were. It worked while they were running transit and 
line. But once when he bellied up to a bar in West Stroudsburg 
and tried to prove his manliness by ordering whisky straight, he 
passed beyond all pretense with the first swallow and found himself 
walking to East Stroudsburg with a large chunk of ice held to his 
head by a Lackawanna conductor, and his arm firmly supported 
by a Pennsy fireman. 

2 This was the extent of Carlson's formal education. 


He was sixteen now. He didn't want to be a civil engineer any 
more, and his thoughts went back to the Navy. 

All the military men in his family were on his mother's side. 
Maybe if he joined the Navy, he might work up to be an Admiral, 
outranking any Colonel there was, including an Evans Colonel! 

He told Orville Kellogg his plan, and Kellogg, who was very 
persuasive, got the impression that he had talked the idea out of 
Evans's head. 

November 6, 1912. Election Day. Teddy Roosevelt versus Woodrow 
Wilson versus William Howard Taft. 

Evans had never been taken by politics. In New England, politics 
was a struggle between the Republicans and the devil. Opinion 
was too one-sided to be interesting to a boy. But this year, now 
that he was away from home and with his old hero Teddy Roosevelt 
running, he followed the campaign in the newspapers and listened 
to the speakers at the street corners, and now and then wore a T.R. 

The afternoon of the 6th, he left Newark to go over to New York 
to stand around Park Row and watch the election returns come in. 
But all the way in, he kept thinking, today would be a good, day to 
join the Navy. 

Near the Hoboken Ferry, he stopped to look into the window 
of an Army recruiting office. The Army? He hadn't thought much 
about the Army. The Navy, yes. Annapolis, of course. But not the 
Army. And yet, why not? 

There suddenly came to him a very good reason why the Army, 
and not the Navy. He knew from his earlier talk with Orville 
Kellogg that the Kellogg family was opposed to any career but 
civil engineering. Thus, if he joined the Navy the old boy would 
know instantly where to look for him. But if he joined the Army? 

He studied the recruiting posters in the window: dusty colored 
pictures of the Philippines, of China, of battalions on parade, of 
cavalry charges. . . . The cavalry would be bully! Lots of excite- 
ment, charging on a great horse with sharp sabre flashing. The 
cavalry for him! 


He entered the office and stepped up to the sergeant at the desk, 
a huge 250-pounder with an enormous peacetime Army belly. 

"I'd like to join up," Evans said. He felt no nervousness. Once he 
made up his mind, he was confident of himself. 

The sergeant smiled. "How old are you, son?" 

Evans was prepared for this question, and prepared to tell a 
white lie, not quite a sin. He was sixteen and a half, and twenty- 
one was the legal age of enlistment. 

"Twenty-two," Evans said. To add a year to the legal require- 
ment would allay suspicion, he thought. 

The sergeant looked at him closely. Evans was quite tall for his 
age almost six feet. He weighed 150 pounds. If you didn't look 
too close, you could be brought to believe that he was nineteen or 

"Well, you're of age all right," the sergeant said hurriedly. 
"What branch do you want to join? Field artillery?" The ser- 
geant was an artilleryman himself, and recruiting in the artillery 
had been slow. 

"Cavalry," Evans said. 

The sergeant showed his disgust. 

"Cavalry," Evans repeated, a little less affirmatively. 

"You're too big and heavy for the cavalry," the sergeant said. 
"Besides, who wants to be nursemaid for a bunch of moth-eaten 
ponies? Take a clean job with a future. The field artillery." 

"What does the artillery do?" 

Out of the desk drawer came a reproduction of a painting. Pranc- 
ing, shiny, fire-breathing horses pulled a caisson. Evans could 
almost hear the thunder of the hooves and the rumble of the iron 
wheels. It was a much better picture than the cavalry charge in the 
window. ' 

At Fort Slocum up the East River off New Rochelle a young 
artilleryman went to sleep that night a little sad that Teddy Roose- 
velt hadn't won, nor Taft. They wouldn't be pleased up in Ver- 

Vermont , , , What were the folks doing tonight? Father would 


be through with the chores by this time, and was probably reading 
to Mother. Karen and Dana and Tom, Jr., were probably wonder- 
ing where he was. ... It would be cold up there now, the ground 
brittle with frost, the cows in the barn up the hill behind the house 
would be restless, trying to keep warm. And like here, the moon 
would be high and bright, and a fellow could almost make out the 
Presidential Range by its light, but that was only because he would 
know exactly where the mountains lay, and would be able to see 
them with his eyes shut. 

When Evans didn't return that night, Kellogg, having a sixth 
sense about such things as adventurous lads, made a call at the 
nearest recruiting office. It happened to be the Army office near 
the ferry. Soon after he sent a wire to Tom Carlson up in Peacham. 


Orville Kellogg was outraged. To nearly all Americans, in the 
years of our peace, the Army was the last refuge of failures and 
semi-criminals. If they had known it, they would have agreed with 
the Chinese proverb: "As you would not use good iron to make a 
nail, so you would not use a good man to make a soldier." Too 
many young men who had gotten into trouble in their home towns 
were given the choice of six months in jail or the Army. West 
Pointers might be all right, but as for the rest, they were a slag 
heap of the back alleys, the bad boys, the misfits. 

In Peacham, Joetta Carlson wanted her son home again. It wasn't 
a question whether the Army was respectable or not. She wanted 
him home again. 

But her husband, fighting the dearest wish of his own heart, re- 
minded her that they had agreed to give Evans his head. He 
pleaded with her softly, lovingly. 

Joetta was silent for a long while. 

"What do you want me to say to Orville?" he asked finally. 

How to know what to tell Orville? What is right or good? 

"Tell Orville we love Evans and believe in him. But tell him to 


let Evans alone/' Joetta said, at last. "The boy has to learn from his 



'I've neglected you 

And so Evans Carlson was a soldier, an artilleryman. Following 
Emerson's advice he had not postponed life; he was living it. He 
had made a choice. True, only for the years of his enlistment term. 
But for those years he would see what there was to see. He was 
young enough. Let the years and adventures fall where they 
might. . . . 

Adventure, of a sort, fell just two months after his enlistment. 

He had said he was twenty-two, and he had to act his age. It 
was like when he was working as a chainman. His fellow artillery- 
men were hard-drinking, hot-time-in-the-old-town-tonight boys, and 
he had to be as good as they were or at least say so. It was easy 
enough to talk about mythical hell-raising but the day came when 
he had to put up or shut up. Frenchie, a Paul Bunyanesque loose 
liver from Canada, decided to buddy up with Evans on their first 

"What do you drink, Carlson?" Frenchie asked when they had 
made their choice of a saloon. 

The boy hesitated. "What're you going to drink, Frenchie?" He'd 
have to watch his step. Learn what the others did. 

"I always drink Irish," Frenchie said. 

"Me, too," Evans said. 

"Two Irish," Frenchie ordered.- 

"Straight or with water chaser?" the bartender asked. 

"How do you like it, Frenchie?" Evans inquired cautiously. 

"Straight. Until I warm up." 



"Me, too." 

Even before he lifted the glass, Evans's head throbbed uncom- 
fortably in memory of the awful night in West Stroudsburg when 
one gulp threw him into the sea. 

He woke up with a gear-stripped head, a sawmill stomach and 
boneless legs in a cheap Bowery hotel room, a day over leave! 

Overleave! Ruined! Disgraced! 

Life fell away from him like swirling top snow before a Vermont 
twister. ... He could see the posters: WANTED! EVANS FOKDYCE 
at Peacham . . . Mother and Dad and the kids ashamed of him 
. . . The teachers at Peacham Academy saying "I told you so" 
with the smugness of fed cats. 

"Run away," he heard something inside him say. "Face the 
music," something else said. . . . What would his father want him 
to do? What would Mother say? 

That made his decision easy. He went back and was given a 
summary court-martial. Verdict: guilty. Sentence: to be fined five 

This was his first and last violation of service regulations. He was 
through pretending he was more of a man than he was. 

The court-martial made a "Christian" of Carlson. He began to 
look around, to observe, to draw conclusions, to figure the way of 
making a success of the Army. He noticed, for example, that most 
of the men in his barracks and battery drank a lot and swore and 
went whoring and overleave and had piled up lots of guardhouse 
time . . . They "soldiered" on the job. They had reputations for 
being unreliable. 

Evans made a simple deduction: if he didn't swear or drink or 
whore or stay overleave or "soldier," soon, without his hah trying, 
they'd say, "Carlson? A good man. A reliable man." 

And so he kept his mouth shut, his ears and his eyes open, his 
record clean. He never spoke to an NCO without being spoken 
to, and soon old Bob Evans, his First Sergeant, came to think of 
him as his number one disciple and support. 

Now, he became the go-getter, the smart, jump-to-your-feet, 


prompt, efficient, think-ahead young man. The Army would be his 
career. Like banking. He was the keen assistant cashier who would 
beat off the bank robbers singlehanded, save the gold, get a promo- 
tion, marry the boss's daughter and live happily ever after. 

In February 1913 Carlson was ordered to Camp Stotsenberg in the 
Philippines, and for the next three years he served there and on 
Corregidor and at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. During his tour 
of duty in the Philippines came the scare of war between the United 
States and Japan over California's anti-alien landownership law. 
The young fire-eating artillery man eagerly awaited his first com- 
bat. But the war scare died away as quickly as it emerged, much 
to his disappointment. 

Carlson had a chance to see Japan and the Japanese for himself 
when he was transferred from the Philippines to Hawaii. His ship 
had to go roundabout to Nagasaki for coaling purposes. He spent 
two days in the city, and although he thought it was quite beauti- 
ful, he was shocked by its many streets of whorehouses and by the 
sight of a human chain of young girls and young mothers, with in- 
fants strapped to them, passing heavy baskets of coal from hand 
to hand from barges below to the open hold of ships above. His 
seventeen-year-old romanticism made him rebel at this cruel ex- 
ploitation of women. 

At Schofield Barracks his "plan for reliability" worked. He was 
promoted rapidly from Private to Assistant Sergeant Major a 
jump that was rare in a first enlistment in the old regular Army. 
Captain "Happy" Glassford who was to become a Brigadier Gen- 
eral was much impressed with Carlson and wanted to recommend 
him for a commission. But the "sin" of lying about his age when 
he enlisted came back to Carlson. Officially he was twenty-five, 
actually he was only nineteen, and too young to accept a commission. 
Although he knew the additional money would be helpful back in 
Peacham, he decided he could not continue to live with the falsehood. 
A man could enlist with a lie but he could not remain a liar and 
become a gentleman by an Act of Congress. Carlson confessed 
to Glassford, and Glassford, acting by the same mores of the mill- 


tary, understood. There would be no question, of course, of re- 
vealing that Sergeant Carlson had enlisted fraudulently; but then 
again there would be no question either of the commission. Carlson 
would have to wait. 

Another friend of these days was Jimmy Ulio who was to be- 
come Adjutant General under George C. Marshall in World War 
II. Ulio remembers Carlson from those days as a man "of ex- 
traordinary ability and always a gentleman." 

If he had known that then, Carlson would have considered Ulio's 
opinion about his being a gentleman the highest possible recom- 
mendation. It would have meant to him then that he was on the 
way to proving that a Carlson could be as good as an Evans. 

While in Hawaii, Carlson's ambition to improve himself made 
him a very conscientious student. He mastered touch typing and 
shorthand; he took army correspondence courses in handwriting, 
administration and tactics. He signed up with the International 
Correspondence Schools for a course in surveying. Every mail from 
the mainland brought him college catalogues. 

In his letters describing all he was doing, he tried to keep from 
his father the fact that he was very homesick. 

"How is Peacham?" he would ask. "It won't be long before 
youll all be wallowing in snow. . . . Tom must be a big boy by 
now. . . . Tve tried to imagine what Karen and Dana look like 
now, but my imagination has failed me. ... By the time I get back 
home, all the fellows that I went to school with will be married 
and have children. It makes me feel old." 

Whenever he thought of Peacham it was as if someone was hit- 
ting the flesh over his heart, making it black and blue. 

"I know that I've neglected you," he wrote his father. "You and 
the entire family. Still, I am proud of all of you. The whole amount 
of it is that I have put other people ahead of you, thinking that all 
of you could wait, while other people would get restless. I am 
going to be different now and see if I can make up for lost time." 

Using the mask of the words "other people," he hoped that his 
father would see that he really meant himself. 

From the admission, he went on, in natural succession, to won- 
der where he stood with God, 


In November 1913, he wrote again to his father. "I am not much 
of a hand on religion, but you know, Dad, that my views are the 
same as yours, though I don't get much of a chance to live up to 
them here. There is a small chapel here but I don't go often." 

With his father he was irrevocably honest. Nothing bound them 
together so tightly as the truth. Carlson, even as a boy, knew that. 

"Dad, I think that I am in a position to say that I can now join 
the church with clear conscience," he wrote in 1915. "You know I 
always believed in the principles of the church, but somehow I never 
could bring myself to say truthfully that I could join and practice 
its teachings. I have been doing a lot of serious thinking in the last 
year or so and have done my best to live a right life. I have con- 
fidence in the future." 

The opening of the Panama Canal caused more ripples in the 
Hawaiian Department than the declaration of war between the 
Entente and the Allies. The Panama Canal, at least, meant the 
possibility that the Eastern boys, Evans Carlson included, might 
be sent directly to an East Coast port when their orders came to 
return home. 

There was a kind of a war 10,000 miles away, and some hotheads 
in the barracks argued one way or another about it, and some wished 
that we'd get in it quickly, before the glory was faded. But most 
of the heat in the barracks was expended on protesting, even at a 
distance, the closing of saloons in Chicago on Sundays. . . . 

He did not have the world by the hair when he landed in San 
Francisco at the end of 1915 to be a civilian again. He had merely 
eighty dollars, all that he had saved. He was nineteen years old 
and only somewhat wiser than when he left home. The Army had 
neither made nor broken him; it had merely confirmed and deep- 
ened what was already in him. 

He was sick for Peacham. But he wasn't ready to go back yet. 
He had nothing to show. He had proved nothing. He would not 
go back until he had some achievement. Then he would "make up 
for lost time." 

He hadn't the slightest idea of what he was going to achieve. 


After a few days in San Francisco he moved down to Los An- 
geles to get warm. He rented a room near the old Biograph Studios, 
looked for a job, and had a beer with ex-First Sergeant Bob Evans, 
who was now a Los Angeles policeman. After a few weeks, his 
eighty dollars were only ten dollars. It was time to act! 

He distrusted big cities, where failure was a cardinal sin and 
people might not understand a young man just out of the Army 
who didn't have his mind set on a specific career. 

He went into a secondhand book store on Sixth Street, found a 
map of California, twirled it around a few times with his eyes 
closed, put his finger on a spot and looked. Ferris. Outside San 
Bernardino. Population: three hundred people. 

Carlson had come to count on luck. Ferris had his number on it, 
else why had his finger picked it out on the map ? And Ferris was 
small-town country, out in the open where a fellow might pretend, 
if he weren't too persnickety, that he was back in Peacham or 

Ferris, not Peacham, it was. Ferris, where awaited him the un- 
expected and unplanned-for harvest a job, a wife, and a son. 


On the map of California 

When he was eighteen, Carlson wrote his mother a letter from 
Hawaii, the substance of which he was to contradict a year and a 
half later. In matters romantic, this was to be a decided pattern of 
the future. 

It makes me feel old to hear about all those young people at 
home getting married. Who will be next? I can't see how any- 
one can get married until they have their future clinched and 


know where everything is coming from. A man is foolish, any- 
way, to marry before twenty-five. Of course, some are different, 
and circumstances alter cases. 

Carlson himself underlined "circumstances." 

The circumstances were these. Ferris was a lovely and romantic 
spot, in a new valley, with a semi-tropical richness and fertility. The 
San Gabriel Mountains beyond with their white crests of snow 
brought evenings as cool and as clear as Vermont. 

As luck would have it, [he wrote home] my landlord a 
Mister Seccombe, is a Christian. This morning he asked me if 
I'd like to take a ride to a place about five miles from here where 
he assists at a little Sunday School. Of course I went and I cer- 
tainly enjoyed it. There were just a handful gathered in the 
schoolhouse, and they were so in earnest that I was very much 
impressed. ... I like this place and I hope that I can locate 
here and grow up with the country. 

But the beauty of the place and the piety of the landlord, though 
pleasant enough circumstances, were merely the background to his 
meeting with Mr. Seccombe's daughter, Dorothy. She was not in 
Ferris when he arrived, but in Los Angeles where she was studying 
singing. She came home at Christmas time. He saw that she was as 
young as he was, beautiful, clever and resourceful. "And practical, 
too/' he thoughtfully wrote to his mother. 

These were all the circumstances of which he was aware. But 
there were others of which he was not aware. 

He had been away from girls like Dorothy Seccombe since leav- 
ing home four years before. And during that time he had grown 
to manhood. In addition, his life had been a kind of wandering, 
and he had idealized the peace of a home of his own. 

"You don't know how much I have longed for a home of my 
own, mother dear," he wrote after meeting Dorothy. "And chil- 
dren. I guess I am realizing how much home life and affection I have 
missed by running around, for I simply crave it now." 

The craving for affection plus absence from girls plus a youth- 
fully verdant romanticism in which a kiss on the cheek of a re- 


spectable young woman meant a commitment for life were the 
unconscious circumstances which brought the summer lightning 
of young love. 

But there was a part of that early letter to his mother his con- 
viction that a man ought to know "where everything is coming 
from" which he tried hard not to contravene. He had no money 
for marriage, but he worked ceaselessly and frantically to get some. 
He found a job running a pumping plant for the Hyde Construc- 
tion Company at Elsinore, California. He started by working on 
both the day and night shift, training himself to go without sleep 
except for two half-hour periods between shifts. His pay was thirty 
cents an hour. 

"I've got to get some money ahead," he told Dorothy. 

But he couldn't continue. The lack of sleep wore into his flesh 
like acid. He lost weight and he lost wakefulness. One night the 
open gears of the pumping machine caught his knee and crushed 
the bone. But, even while being cared for, he worked thirteen hours 
a day, and when he felt a little stronger he put in twenty and 
twenty-two hours. Always, he was driven by "getting a little 
ahead." A man had to have money to get married. But the days 
vanished and the hunger of love seemed more debilitating than 

He and Dorothy talked the matter over. All the old rationaliza- 
tion came to their aid: two could accomplish more together than 
separated. He could go on with his studies to be a civil engineer 
while she continued with her music. It's foolhardy to marry on 
little or nothing, but in our case it's different. 

They planned to get married in July. Trouble rising over the 
Mexican Border threatened to change their plans. Pancho Villa 
and his men, haters of Yanqui Imperialismo, came riding like the 
wind into the town of Columbus, New Mexico, and killed nine 
civilians and eight troopers of the Thirteenth United States Cavalry. 
They were chased back with more loss of life on both sides. Presi- 
dent Carranza apologized and promised to find Villa and punish 
him. But this wasn't enough. Brigadier General John J. Pershing 
and 6000 men crossed into Mexico to punisli him themselves. 


This was war! The Army Reserve, Carlson figured, might be 
called up to fight Mexico. The other war? In Europe, now only 
6000 miles away? It wasn't likely that that war would affect the 
Reserves ? 

But that war did affect the Reserves, and he got word that he'd 
be called back to active duty that summer. The excuse was Mexico, 
but the reason was President Wilson's ultimatum of April 18, 1916 
to Germany threatening to sever diplomatic relations unless Ger- 
many abandoned her methods of submarine warfare. 

Evans Carlson and Dorothy Seccombe were married in May in- 
stead of July. 

They had not been too quick. On July I5th, Evans Carlson wrote 
his folks a card from Riverside, California. "I report for duty to- 
morrow at San Diego. Will let you know address as soon as I get 
my orders. Dorothy will be at Hotel Harvard here. Love, Evans." 

Between his marriage day and July I5th he had to earn a living. 
He took up his old line of surveying, and laid out parts of High- 
way 395, from Perris to the San Diego county line. 

He loved surveying. Laying out the lines between the hills and 
over the grades, breaking boundaries, figuring the rise and fall of 
the land gave him a sense of pioneering. Here would flow a road 
where none had been before. Here would be towns and villages 
and churches and schools, woven together by him, his road. And 
he loved the open country life. He had an eye for its beauties. . , . 
The Temecula Valley where once the wheat fields of Mission San 
Luis Rey swung gently in the breezes and flourished under the warm 
winter sun. And Rainbow, on an upland valley where the road 
moves upward even higher to Red Mountain and thick, rugged 
chaparral. Fallbrook, Bonsai, Vista, where the vineyards suck the 
sun. San Marcos, and Escondido, whose loveliness delighted him and 
where he swore he would live some day and did. Escondido, 
where he would return twenty-seven years later with the wounds of 
Saipan in him, with the decent wisdom of a life that lay behind 
and ahead of him like the road he had marked on the map of 


He was unhappy about going back to the Army. Marriage had 
brought him contentment, peace for the hungers of his body, and 
the hopes o a home. But as long as he had to go back, perhaps 
something might turn up in the Army that would be what he 
wanted, something that would make him say: Yes, this is it! This 
is what I am going to do with my life! 

"Happy" Glassford, his old friend and now a Regimental Ad- 
jutant, did a little talking about a commissioned rank for Sergeant 
Carlson, but they weren't commissioning married men those days. 
The Army, for a moment, looked more like a trap than a career. 

He was sent to Camp Fort Bliss in El Paso, where he became an 
instructor to National Guard Artillery outfits, on which he looked 
with considered disdain, for he was a first-class snob from the 

But he was a good instructor. Anyone could see that. His bat- 
teries were shaped up a bit faster than others. Of course, they 
didn't have the savvy of his old A Battery of the Fifth, but what 
could he expect of a bunch of militiamen? They were as good as he 
could make them. And yet ... yet ... Why weren't they better? 
What was the sand in the gears? Was it his fault? No! When it 
came to his job, he had no quibble or self-doubt. He knew what 
he knew! 

He knew this much: he could get better results from his battery 
when they knew what they were doing and why, and what the 
other fellow was doing and why. And that all this somehow de- 
pended on whether he could get them to work together. But how 
could he get them to really work together? It was hard. He re- 
alized that each man had a kind of sovereignty that he held with 
stubborn strength even at the cost of the battery's welfare. Maybe 
he couldn't make it work. Maybe it was just human nature. 

He didn't question further, for in those days he didn't have as 
much confidence in his ability to handle ideas as he had in his 
ability to handle things. 

In this intellectual self-doubt Carlson's uncertainty came, in part, 
from a gigantically inflated conviction that a formal college educa- 
tion kept him from having ideas of worth. 


"It is curious/' he wrote home at this time, "that during these 
last months with the militia, I have constantly come in contact with 
college men from all over the country, and always I have been re- 
ceived as one of them and have held my own. Unless I told them 
otherwise, they have taken it for granted that I was a college man. 
. , . It has been a great step towards broadening me." 

In the meantime, the war was crossing oceans and moving up 
on those training camps. 

On January 22, 1917, President Wilson made a speech to the Sen- 
ate calling on the warring powers to make a peace without victory 
an offer rejected as vehemently by the Allies as by the Central 
Powers. On the thirty-first, Germany informed us that she was 
returning to unrestricted submarine warfare. Three days later, we 
broke off diplomatic relations. And on March 12 Congress author- 
ized arms to the first American merchant ship. 

On the twenty-seventh of March, Evans wrote to his father that 
the time had come for war. "Our dignity and honor must be pre- 
served. . . . We are better prepared than our enemies think, al- 
though the deaths of Admiral Dewey and General Funston will 
be severely felt." And then, as if the suck of war was already pull- 
ing him forever from his home, he added: "If I could only get a 
glimpse of Vermont again, I would be satisfied . . ." But the sol- 
dier in him returned. "What is the feeling in Peacham? Will a 
company of volunteers be raised in that vicinity?" 

Before he received his father's reply, we were at war. 

War, to a citizen who becomes a soldier for the duration, means 
that his life stops. Everything he had prepared for work, farm- 
ing, teaching, law, marriage, a family has to go by the board. 
But to a Regular Army man, war means that life begins. For what 
else has he prepared for but war! For years he has been building 
houses out of straw. But now the game is over. A real house is to be 
built out of combat. With war, he begins to feel he has a func- 
tion in life. 

It was time for orders, for commands, for getting things done. 

Line up! 'Bout face! Six-inch guns, rifles, mess, K.P., right shoul- 


der arms. Who cares what you did before, soldier? Who cares what 
you can do now? You're in the Army, son! Forward 'arch! 

To the brass hats of 1917, as to the brass hats of 1941, as to the 
brass hats o all times and everywhere, a citizen army meant that 
while citizens composed the Army, the Army was not composed o 
citizens. All civic interests, responsibilities and duties were packed 
up and sent home with a man's bundle of civvies. 

In June 1917, Carlson became a Second Lieutenant in the Regular 
Army, assigned as Battalion Adjutant in the i3th Field Artillery, 
What a difference now! Good chow! Good company! College men! 
Retirement, if he were disabled, on three-quarter pay. His life 
had not been wasted, after all. 

On September 20, the President made him a First Lieutenant, and 
ten days later Dorothy made him a father. "Evans Junior. Born 
at 5:30 A.M. With ten fingers and ten toes, a full crop of hair, and 
the strength to hold onto his father's finger with the grip of a 
python," he wrote home. 

Up in Peacham they all read the news, or rather Thomas Carl- 
son read it aloud to make the pleasure fuller, if possible. "He has my 
lower lip and my head. . . . He sure has my feet. Big feet!" 

Five months later, at Camp Pike, Arkansas, he received his cap- 
taincy. . . . "Everything I received I earned," he told Peacham. 

The Staff officers had noticed this lanky lad. He was given jobs of 
responsibility, jobs that made demands on his ability to get on with 
men. He was, in short, being tested for leadership. And there was 
no doubt that he passed, for he had the skill of leadership, a skill 
that is indigenous and cannot be acquired, and comes to a man 
like an ear for music or an eye for color. He had what the military 
technicians call "the command presence." This meant that Carlson 
could give orders clearly, emphatically and resonantly. It meant 
that his commands had the seed of obedience in them, that when 
he gave an order he conveyed the impression, at the same time, that 
he himself was capable of fulfilling it, that the men who obeyed him 
could do so without feeling humiliated. It meant, ultimately, that 
he created confidence. It did not mean necessarily he had the love of 


his followers. That precious element of leadership unfortunately 
was not required in the "command presence." 

He began to articulate certain principles of leadership that had 
come to him through three years as an enlisted man and a year as 
an officer. 

He wrote them down in a letter to his father. 

I love my men but I must keep them working. When the 
work is over, I must see that they have some recreation. I must 
always see that they have sufficient food and shelter wherever 
it is possible. I will lead a man, if he will be led. But 111 get 
him where he's got to go, even if I have to drive him. I never 
ask a man to do something I won't do myself. This applies to 
everything from dismounting a gun to riding a bad horse. This 
inspires the confidence of the men. . . . But I must never be- 
come too intimate with the men. That is the downfall of many 
officers. An officer who can mix with his men and show them 
that he does not feel himself above them, but still keeps a cer- 
tain reserve, always holds their respect and loyalty. It is the 
great secret of leadership and requires a great amount of diplo- 
macy. . . . Oh, it's a great game. I would be in no other. 

In 1917 Carlson was dealing in the common coin of the Ameri- 
can Army, paradoxically modeled in part after the Prussian sys- 

He was proud, somewhat arrogant, formal, straight-backed, con- 
descending to the militia and National Guard and standoffish to the 
enlisted men. 

Now that the 334th Field Artillery was at Camp Dix en route to 
France, he was going home on leave. This was the first time in 
seven years. He had left when he was fourteen. He was now a man 
of twenty-one, married, with a son. He was a captain in the Regular 
Army. He was the prodigal son with the double silver bars. 

Unhappily, he would not be returning with Dorothy and Evans, 
Jr., to show them off. They had gone back to California. 

His father was harder-worked and thinner. His mother, sick 
grayer in her face, small brown mottlings on the back of her hands 


he had never noticed before, or had forgotten. And Tommie, last 
seen scratching worms out of the mud, now in high school, now 
studious and solid. No one had to worry about Tommie. He'd 
plant his feet in the world soon; he'd know what he wanted. And 
Karen, beautiful in a way that made him gasp. Tall as he was, look- 
ing like him in a way, except that all the masculine boniness of his 
face was gentle and rounded in hers. But the same eyes, the same 
laugh like Dad's, And Dana, eighteen, eager, ambitious, straight 
as a spruce, a sophomore at Middlebury. 

His father gave a special sermon that Sunday at the clean white 
Congregational Church, standing lean and gentle, looking at his 
son when he announced the text with a touch of a smile. "In quiet- 
ness and in confidence shall be your strength." It was his father's 
favorite. It gave him a chance to speak of neighborliness and mu- 
tual respect. "Christianity has not failed; it has never been tried." 
It was a quote from Henry Ward Beecher, but it wasn't the source 
that mattered, it was the way his father said the words. 

When Evans Carlson said good-by to his mother he asked if she 
had forgiven him for running away. 

"It's all past now, Evans. There's nothing to forgive," she said. 

Tom Carlson, tall as his son, with a Viking's laugh that matched 
his, put his arm around Evans and went down to the depot with 

Going home was high noon. 


"I shall go up!" 

When Captain Evans Carlson and the 334th Field Artillery of the 
87th Division marched off the Cunarder Mauritania onto a Liver- 
pool dock die war was coming to an end. 

"I SHALL GO UP!" 115 

On the 8th of November they were on French trains nearing the 
shooting. On the nth, they were still on the trains. Peace had come, 
the 87th hadn't fought, and the men were disgusted. What the hell 
do you tell your kids ? I fought the last war on a train. 

Carlson felt even a keener disappointment. Soldiering was the 
only career he had; it was his profession, and now life again was 
empty. How could he tell he was a good soldier unless he had 
fought? How could he compete at promotion time with those other 
Regular officers who had fought? 

Carlson didn't want to leave Europe. He finagled around General 
Staff Headquarters at Chaumont until, by means of Lieutenant 
Colonel Jimmy Ulio's helping hand, he was taken on Pershing's 
staff. His job was to investigate recommendations for the Congres- 
sional Medal of Honor. He traveled through the Rhine cities where 
units of the occupying Third Army were stationed. He had a car, a 
chauffeur, chocolate bars and a good time. When he got back to 
Chaumont, where world history was refracted in the glass of special 
interests, he studied French, inveighed against the "bloody Bol- 
shies" and pondered the terms of the Versailles Treaty. 

President Wilson's luminous and far-seeing Fourteen Points had 
been obscured for evil by the old imperialistic gangs whose agents 
wrote the important sections of the treaty. General Smuts of South 
Africa protested its short-sightedness and illiberality. Ray Stannard 
Baker, Wilson's confidant and press secretary, thought the treaty 
was abominable. "Are we not all disappointed to the souls of us," 
he wrote in his diary. 

But Carlson did not see the betrayal. In a letter of May 9, 1919 
to his father, he said: 

The conditions of the peace as handed to the Germans yester- 
day are great. The instrument was admirably drawn up. Most 
of the Wilsonian idealistic points that were in evidence in the 
original draft of the League of Nations have been modified, 
revised and even amputated by the practical Clemenceau to 
where they are better able to serve a progressive and practical 
world. [Author's italics.] 


Word had come to Carlson in late October that Dana was sick 
with influenza. Before his letter inquiring for more information 
reached Peacham he received a cable with news of his brother's 
death. He was stunned. 

Carlson's grief exposed with one stroke his deepest need. 

"My father, my mother, my brother, my sister," he wrote in the 
first letter home. "Let us draw our little circle closer together now. 
We need each other. Life is too short . . ." And added : "I shall never 
forgive myself for not spending more time with Dana on my leave 
last summer. I can't forgive myself for all the time we had been 
separated . . . Do you remember what I said when I was home? 
I said that Dana had the makings of a great man; that some day he 
would be heard from in this country of ours. I believed this. He 
would have been the greatest of us all." 

He tried to reassure his father and mother that their loss might 
not yet be without a gain, as small as it was. He tried to tell them 
that with Dana's death Karen and Tommie and he would strive 
even harder to bring them happiness, and that Karen and Tommie, 
and even possibly he, would succeed. 

Although in the years to come Carlson would see deaths inti- 
mately, none would match Dana's. He knew for the first time a grief 
that was guilt and pity and love. "Draw closer together now. . . ." 
It is the only way, he tried to tell them in Peacham. No one is free 
of guilt, but let us be proud of our love and pity. It will some day 
be all that we have left. 

In the late fall of 1919 Carlson was ordered back to his "pro- 
gressive and practical world" after having received a citation for 
meritorious work from General Pershing and decorations from the 
French and Italian governments. 

Back in California. December 1919. San Francisco. What next? 
What should he do now? 

Staying in the Army with the rank of Captain had many ad- 
vantages. If he stayed in for thirty years and minded his own busi- 
ness, he would retire on an income which for a Colonel or a General 

"I SHALL GO UP!" 117 

Officer a rank he would inevitably reach was considerable. 
Perhaps as much as four to five hundred dollars a month. The 
Army was security. In addition, the Army was a pretty easy life 
in peacetime. He would move from post to post with his family and 
all expenses paid; his living wouldn't be too high; and he would 
have privileges and standing in the community; and the sport of 
being among men who shared the same code, who spoke the same 
language, who did the same things. He would travel, meet digni- 
taries, even have a chance to study. Yes, the Army in peacetime was 
a safe place, a "better 'ole." But perhaps for that reason he wondered 
whether it would be good for him. There was something damning 
about it, something debilitating. His future would be too secure. 

This prospect of being tamed, of not having genuine responsi- 
bilities, caught in the craw of his ambition. The Army game meant 
that you never stuck your neck out or initiated anything of im- 
portance on your own. Evans Carlson had always enjoyed using his 
initiative. The Army, as he had known it, did not encourage the 
use of that talent. 

And so he decided to resign. He would try a different life, the 
competitive world of business where there were no dead certainties 
and where inventiveness was a capital gain, not a hazard. Behind 
his choice was perhaps an even stronger reason. To "make good" is 
strictly an American idiom, and up to our own times, to "make 
good" meant commercial success. 

From the day he ran away from home he had tried to "make 
good," to return a completely successful man, perhaps a wealthy 
man able to give his people the security they deserved, and to show 
them, if possible, that he had done all this on his own. To succeed 
while maintaining his independence was the formula of his ambi- 
tion. The Army had not quite given him what he had sought; per- 
haps business would. 

He resigned and took a job as a salesman with the California 
Packing Corporation. It was the best he could get in the unstable 
postwar world of 1919-1920 where call money was at 30 per cent 
and a panic of deflation was creating unemployment, commercial 
failures and farm bankruptcies. 


But he found selling a gray drudgery. If a man needed something 
and bought it that was natural But when a man had to be sold 
something, the need for which was an artifice, it seemed to Carlson 
that the transaction was a violation of basic instinct, and a humilia- 
tion for both seller and purchaser. Despite this he worked hard at 
it in the Oakland area, doing well and priming himself with the 
thought that this was the way everybody must begin, and that he 
was learning the methods of business. Like many other American 
businessmen who were eligible, he joined the American Legion, 
becoming a charter member of the Oakland Post. 

About this time he and his wife Dorothy concluded that it would 
be best for them to part. There had been difficulties from the be- 
ginning. Their work and interests had little in common. The war 
had not given them a real chance to live together. Perhaps most im- 
portant was Carlson's immature romanticism which made him ill- 
prepared for the responsibilities of marriage. He felt rebellious under 
the burden; the marriage had been a mistake for both. 

Their separation was decided jointly "without the heat of anger 
nor under the sting of any alleged injustice. But with discretion, 
prudence and deep affection," he wrote reassuringly to his father 
and mother. 

He knew he would miss growing up with his son, and he was 
saddened. He tried to reason that the parting with Evans, Jr. was a 
necessary sacrifice for a mistake he had made. The thought helped, 
but it was New England, not the father, that was reasoning. 

For two years he sold the fruits of the California Packing Cor- 
poration in little villages throughout Texas and Montana. It was 
open America and he loved the country. But he was not happy. 

At Christmas, 1921, business was so poor he didn't have enough 
money to send home any presents. 

His pride was deeply hurt, and when' he took his first vacation at 
the end of 1921 it was no accident that he spent it in the country 
that had known his father as a youth. It was as if he were seeking 
redress for his bruises. He went up to the gaunt ghost country 
around Silver Mountain, and down to the coast to Port Orford, 
Oregon. He found the old crossroad store where his father had 

"I SHALL GO UP!" 119 

worked, and even a few people who had known him. He walked 
among the great dark cedars and tried to visualize his father's youth. 
The past brought him a feeling of continuity, of coming forth 
from something, and of growing into something. 

In the middle of April 1922, he was at Marshfield, Oregon, a wild 
and sparsely settled country over which still lingered the bitter and 
rugged spirit of the old pioneers. He hunted and fished along the 
rivers and alone with himself in this untouched wilderness he tried 
consciously to weigh his life and his future. 

He had failed; he had drifted; he hated his work; he was getting 
old. . . . To a New Englander, to Carlson, to grow old without the 
satisfaction of work and achievement is to die slowly without 
having lived, for a man must perforce fill his life with work, whether 
it is a family or a farm. An empty life is a plague of the soul. 

"What shall I do?" he asked. 

He tramped the trails near Marshfield and tried to find the answer. 
He walked along the coast and watched the great waves batter 
against the continent. 

He drew up balance sheets, saying he was not for business, nor 
business for him; that he wanted to go to school somehow and he 
wanted time to think and write; that the only possibility for him 
to get what he wanted, now that he was twenty-six and too old and 
too economically insecure to go to college, was to join the Army 
again. He re-examined his old arguments against the peacetime 
Army life, and in the process of examination necessity mothered 
reasons. He understated the drawbacks and underlined the ad- 
vantages, and concluded that if he set himself to it, he could get a 
fine education in the Army without being stunted by its rigidity. 

He was unaware, of course, of the extent of his fear, not only of 
civilian life in general with its indecisiveness, complexities and fail- 
ures, but also of the anarchy of business life in particular where a 
man has to be tough in a special and sometimes degrading way in 
order to succeed. 

But there were other elements which went into his decision 
basic and unconscious conflicts. As part of Carlson's psychological 


need, he had erected a structure o self-reliance. He wanted, above 
all, to be "master of his own fate." It would appear that he was 
so unsure of himself that he could not bear the thought of anything 
less than complete self-possession. But what were the other sides of 
his needs? Despite his eagerness to be his own master, to be com- 
manded only by himself, he still desired to be socially acceptable, 
to be as good as an Evans, to prove himself, in short, on a social as 
well as an educational plane. But the heart of his dilemma, being 
the son of religious people, was Carlson's consciousness of sin. He 
knew, for example, that he had hurt his mother by running away. 
No rationalization lightened this thought. A Yankee arid the son 
of a conscientious preacher, he could not escape it, and must suffer 
for it. 

Military life, for the time being, could work toward resolving these 
unconscious dilemmas. A soldier was subject to discipline a 
discipline which might, in the complex workings of a man's psyche, 
become a kind of atonement for a sin. Yet, with all its order and 
rigid code and discipline, military life held opportunities. A man 
with the capacity of leadership could become an officer (acceptable 
to the Evanses of our world), and, as an officer, make his own de- 
cisions and act on them. Within a circumscribed area, an officer 
could feel a strong sense of self-reliance, especially in battle. This 
may not be literally true, but there is something in giving orders and 
having grave responsibilities which implies being a captain o one's 
own soul. 

Carlson decided to go back into the armed services of his country* 
It was fitting that the decision made him "so happy I'm almost 
moved to tears." The military was a good way out for him in many 
respects. If it did not completely resolve the warring within him, 
at least it would wipe the taste of failure from his lips. The uniform 
was a quick way of restoring pride. Like the joining of a religious 
order, becoming a soldier as an act of free will reveals a man's con- 
tempt for the confusion and trickery of the outside world. 

But there were complications. Some time before the War De- 
partment had informed him that he could rejoin the Army, but as 
a Second Lieutenant. Now, if he accepted the offer, he would be 


outranked by those of his colleagues who had remained. He was 
conscious of rank, and he did not want to work under this burden 
in addition to his already deep sense of failure. The Navy, of course, 
was out of the question. He had too much experience as a soldier to 
throw it all away. 

Only the Marine Corps was left. It was not merely a question of 
the Corps being the last choice; rather it seemed to fit, in all respects, 
his requirements. The Corps was more active than the Army; it was 
smaller and constantly alerted. Moreover, in the Marines he would 
be able to get out to China. He wanted strange places and new op- 
portunities. America was Carlson's home town, and to a man who 
believes he has failed a home town is an intolerable place to live. 

And so on April 28, 1922 he resigned from the California Packing 
Corporation, though they had just offered him a better job, and 
three days later a letter came to the Reverend Thomas A. Carlson 
in West Rutland, Vermont, where he had a new parish. The return 
address was Private Evans F. Carlson USMC, Headquarters, Marine 
Barracks, Mare Island, California. 


Well, I'm back in the service. And believe me, Fm so 
happy I'm almost moved to tears. Lord, I've fought off the 
desire to get back into harness but Fd rather be a buck private 
in the Marines than a Captain of industry. ... My heart is in 
the service and here I must stay. ... 7 shall go up, of course. 
Sit steady in the boat and don't worry. I'm coming out on 
top. . . . Hope to get out to China soon. . . . 

I shall go up . . . I'm coming out on top. He underlined the words. 
Let them know at home how he felt; let them see that he was still 
ambitious and still confident, and that he was not going into the 
Marines just to be a thirty-year man for retirement pay. 

He wanted them to know. He wanted them not to share his 
failure. They must see that he was looking for something that would 
make his life meaningful, that would bring him peace. 

Part Three 

The shores of an idea 

When on an April day in 1922 the Sergeant at the Marine Corps 
Recruiting Office in Portland, Oregon asked the tall, thin, twenty- 
six-year-old, good-looking fellow whether he had had any previous 
military experience, he almost fell out of his chair when he heard him 
say: "Yes. The Army. Seven years. Captain in the Field Artillery ." 

"That doesn't make sense," the Sergeant said, and called in the 
officer-in-charge, Captain James Schwerin, who was nothing if not 
pleased at the thought of snagging an Army officer. After all, every- 
one in the whole wide world knew that a Marine Private was the 
equal of an Army Captain. He gave Carlson the oath, endorsed 
his enlistment papers and asked him his choice of duty. 1 

"The legation guard in Peking, or a chance at Officers' School, in 
the order mentioned," Carlson said. 

He was sent to Mare Island, and twenty days after his enlistment 
he was promoted to corporal. That meant Officers' School, for a non- 
commissioned rank was a prerequisite. On the same day he shot for 
record on the range, qualifying as an expert in both rifle and pistol. 

How fortunate I am! [he wrote home]. Now all I have to do 
is to pass my exams for Officers* School. . . . I I pass, Til be in 
Washington in the latter part of June. . . , Next Christmas, I 

1 Twenty years later, almost to the day, James Schwerin, then a 
Lieutenant Colonel, gave the same oath to the author in the Federal 
Building, Los Angeles. 


may be in Vermont with you. That is, if I'm lucky. Ill play 
this with an ace in the hole so that I'll not be disappointed 
if my plans don't turn out as I expect. . . . 

He passed the examination. 

This whole business of enlisting in the Marine Corps genuinely 
excited him. It was a new exploit, an adventure that had all the 
novelty of the old ones, and there was the added fact that being older 
and wiser in the ways of the service he could enjoy it more. After 
all, now he was an ex-Captain with ribbons and decorations, and he 
had seen the world and the wars. He was back in his milieu, in which 
men and things could be handled with confidence. 

The smoke of failure which had filled his lungs had blown away. 
He saw a future now. The same security which once had seemed 
to him hampering and restricting now became a goal. It was a joy 
to walk down the streets in uniform, Marine Corps especially, and 
know with satisfaction that people would accept you without having 
to prove yourself. It was all to the good; a man could feel a man 

When he arrived in Washington the first thing he did was to call 
on a friend in the Adjutant General's office to see about correcting 
his age on the records. If he was going to become an officer and go 
up in the Corps, the original lie had better be expunged. And so it 
was with no trouble. They were accustomed to this kind of thing 
at Headquarters. 

But he did not make Christmas home that year, 1922. He spent it 
studying. There were so many things he had not known about his- 
tory, geography, trig. 

In all his classes at Officers' School Carlson was high in the list, 
but in the course on military efficiency he was top man. Efficiency 
had always appealed to him; it was the way you made things work. 
Up to this time, military efficiency as far as he understood it meant 
planning and discipline and promptness in the execution of orders. 
But he sensed that there might be something even more conducive 
to efficiency than these. 

He was required to write a short essay on military efficiency or 
any allied subject, and it is indicative of his thinking at this time 


that he chose to call his essay "An Interpretation of Military Ethics." 
In ethical practice he thought he had found the answer to making 
men more efficient. He wrote: 

To the great mass of men in the service, military ethics is 
nothing more than a meaningless term. It is accepted as one 
of those arbitrary adjuncts to military phraseology . . . which 
convey no tangible significance. ... I cannot emphasize too 
strongly the necessity for a definite understanding of a term 
which is of such vast import to our profession. . . . 

Military ethics, he said, was the adaptation of general ethics or 
morality, and morality was the consciousness on the part of men to 
strive for the welfare of society as a whole. This meant that society 
had a code of rules, and that the individual must subordinate his 
interests wherever they came in conflict with the code. ... In the 
military life, the same thing applied. Through custom and the 
experience of tried leaders, rules were set down. These rules, like 
saluting and the prompt and precise execution of orders, had to 
obtain over anyone's personal desires in order "to achieve the welfare 
of the whole and the efficiency of the fighting machine." 

Although the twenty-six-year-old officer candidate accepted the 
tradition and did not push back the dark frontiers of the "code" by 
even a question, in this essay he brought an old truth into a new 

"Are you honest with yourselves at all times?" he asked his fellow 
officer candidates. "Do you adhere as rigidly to the code when you 
are alone as when you are under observation? These are moral 
obligations." It was refreshing to say so, it was refreshing enough for 
some of the officers to begin thinking of Carlson as a maverick. He 
tried to show that by accepting these moral obligations, officers 
"became more competent moral agents." And that, in turn, would 
increase their own efficiency as well as the efficiency of the men. 
whom they led. 

He was still barely touching the shores of an idea. His experience 
had been too limited to strike out beyond. All he knew was that at 
Camp Fort Bliss the training of his batteries had suffered somehow 


by the seeming incapacity of men to genuinely sacrifice their in- 
terests to the whole. 

He could quote Polonius's advice from reveille to taps, but still it 
did not help him know how to make men act on the advice. 

On December 23, 1922, he was commissioned a second lieutenant, 
on probation for two years, and ordered to Quantico to join the 
Fifth Marine Regiment. 

The Marine is a very special animal; and he lives in a very special 
world. In numbers, the Corps is the minority of our armed serv- 
ices, limited by law to 20 per cent of Navy strength. During the pre- 
Pearl Harbor peace it was never larger than a large Army division 
about 18,000 men and officers. Being conscious of its small size and 
constantly harassed by the Army and Navy, the Marine Corps is 
guilty of everything ever falsely charged against any minority. In de- 
fense of its existence* it appears to be boastful, loud, arrogant, proud, 
energetic, clannish, hyper-sensitive and sentimental. It knows all 
the pains of the minority, including the horror of feeling that ex- 
tinction (by Congress) is just around the corner. For this reason it 
never forgets its history and waves it endlessly in the faces of its 
private enemies and public admirers. 

It is no accident that so many men and officers in the Corps are 
from the South. Where else could the grandsons of a people still 
sensitive to defeat feel more at home than in an organization which 
by tradition, practice and psychology considers itself the elite soldiers 
of our nation? No other branch of service is so helpful to a man 
who, like Carlson, suffered from, a sense of inferiority. 

A Marine, like a Jew, has to be doubly good to succeed. This makes 
smarter peacetime soldiers, better wartime fighters, greater casualties 
in battle than absolutely necessary, and quicker and more decisive 

And so when Evans Carlson reported in to Quantico, the heart- 
land of the Corps, he was entering the brotherhood of the elite as 
well as a community of a military peacetime post. 

Life at Quantico hi peacetime was life devoted to eating o the 
lotus. The hours were short, the duties light, week ends long; and 


polo, hunting, boating and other kingly sports were commonplace. 
It was, in short, a country club village in uniform. 

In this "village" there was no economic competition, for every- 
one's basic income was fixed by law. It was a community where 
all differences of opinion were throttled by mutual consent, where 
people lived and worked by the unspoken code that no officer talked 
politics, past or present or future, and no officer commented on the 
ability or lack of ability of his fellow officers. Domestic problems 
which, in this tight and almost incestuous world, were an open secret 
were never referred to in public. If Colonel So-and-So's lady was a 
drunkard, no one mentioned it. If the Colonel himself had to be 
carried home from every party, his bearers followed the code so 
rigidly that though they might perform the rites twice a week for 
a year, they never mentioned it to the Colonel and rarely among 

In this world no officer could do for himself as much as his wife 
could do for him. It was strictly a woman's job to strive for her 
husband's career. It was expected of her. At sewing, tea or bridge 
the millrace of gossip flowed through the room, and it was up to 
each woman to extract the nuggets which would be most useful to 
her man. If an officer wanted to get some information to his chief, 
he transmitted it to him through the parlor magic of a bridge game 
where wives were free of the burden of being "gentlemen." 

Though wives were rivals when it came to fighting for their hus- 
bands' careers, an instant unity possessed them whenever one of 
their circle had her domestic security threatened by another woman. 
The group moved in, as if by command, to isolate the offender, 
even punish her by severe ostracism if she was available; and if 
she was not, they worked on their husbands to see that the erring 
husband was transferred to some other post out of Delilah's range. 

The only meaning this tightly woven, almost matriarchal society 
had for Carlson was to give him the understanding that if he 
married again he must find not only a wife with whom he could be 
in love, but also one whose personality made it possible to live and 
thrive in this most exacting and unique tribe. 

And so, after graduation, he went "society"; he did what was ex- 


pected of him, though he went into debt for it. He bought all kinds 
and varieties of uniforms, khaki, white, green, blue, dress, undress, 
garrison, field, riding. He made his protocol calls, joined the Army 
and Navy Club in Washington, attended horse shows and dances, 
squired the Colonel's daughters, sent flowers, went fox-hunting in 
Virginia, played polo in Chevy Chase and attended church. 

Everyone was impressed with Lieutenant Carlson. He was clear- 
skinned, handsome and gracious with the ladies. He had a courtier's 
manner. His social tasks were fulfilled with cheerfulness and 
efficiency. He was a gentleman as well as a fine officer, a perfect 
extra man for the girl coming down to visit her aunt and uncle for 
the week end. 

During the years at Quantico and later in Puerto Rico, in Nica- 
ragua and China in short, during the fifteen years between 1922 
and 1937 Carlson was "regular." He did his work "by the book," 
and apart from an extraordinary conscientiousness in line of duty, 
he was indistinguishable on the surface from other ambitious Marine 
officers who tried hard to keep their record clean in order to end 
up with a Colonel's eagle or a General's star. 

Even the temporary reputation he won as a maverick with his 
essay on military ethics was quickly dissipated. 

But beneath the surface of this "regularity" he was restlessly search- 
ing for something: to make his life meaningful and, without his 
being aware of it, as significant as his father's. His pride resisted 
acknowledging even to himself that he was unhappy, and his re- 
serve stopped him from confiding in others. 

And yet, at times, shapeless impulses would seize him, and he 
would look at his life with dissatisfaction as he had done at Port 
Orford. After such self-examinations, he usually took some step 
which he hoped would change his life and would bring him closer 
to what he was seeking. 

Such a time came again during the Marine winter maneuvers in 
Puerto Rico in 1924. 

At a tea dance at the Hotel Miramar, where he went to give the 
girls a once-over and to ask the prettiest for a dance, he met his 
second wife. 


Etelle Sawyer was in Puerto Rico on what was to be known 
much later as "good neighbor" business. A graduate of the Uni- 
versity of Maine and Wellesley, she taught Spanish and Latin in a 
Massachusetts school and English in the high school at Fajardo, 
Puerto Rico. In 1923, Mrs. Herbert Hoover asked her to help 
organize the Puerto Rican girl scouts. 

Etelle Sawyer liked Carlson from the start. He had almost an 
old-fashioned courtliness and a way of listening to her that made 
her feel that he was deeply concerned with her opinions. His earnest- 
ness which was his most outstanding characteristic was lightened 
frequently by a rich humor. And, of course, he was very handsome, 
she thought. Tall and erect without being stiffly military; a clear 
skin and blue eyes. His long nose and long chin of which he was 
somewhat self-conscious, she thought, gave his face great strength. 
She knew that he would be very attractive to women as he was 
not only because of his appearance and thoughtfulness but also 
because of his quiet competence which made her feel that he knew 
what he wanted out of life and would get it. 

"I could tell this about him," she said in later years, "the way I 
can tell that black is black and white is white. You just had to talk 
to him five minutes, or look at him, and you saw it." 

They danced and had some tea, and he asked if he might see her 
again. When she hesitated, he told her that he had been com- 
missioned to write some articles for the San Juan El Tiernpo and 
would need help with his grammar. 

She agreed to help him. 

Etelle Sawyer was more to Carlson than a source of grammar. 
She was charming and very attractive. Tall, with dark-reddish hair, 
warm and friendly eyes, she carried herself with grace and dignity. 
He thought of her as not only a woman who would be a fine wife, 
but someone who could move through the strange waters of the 
Marine Corps life, understand it, and know how to live by the 

He met her in the end of January 1924, and by the middle of 
February, fleet maneuvers and all, he was able to write home that 
they were in love with each other and were going to marry. 


With Etelle Sawyer, Carlson felt he stood a better chance of 
making a success- of marriage. This was not a summer-lightning 
romance. They were both mature people, equally admiring and re- 
spectful of each other; she of his earnest and humane love of life 
and adventure, he of her independence, her education, her wit and 
ease with people. She relieved his sense of inferiority at being self- 
taught; he brought excitement into a schoolteacher's life. 

"I took her over to Headquarters at Culebra Island yesterday," 
he wrote his mother. "In fifteen minutes every officer, from the 
General down, was her humble servant. And the beauty of it is that 
she is entirely unaffected. . . . The date of the wedding will be set 
when I know what is to become of me this summer. It might be 
June, and we might spend our honeymoon in Vermont. How 
would you all like that? . . . Tell Karen that Etelle is a Pi Beta Phi. 
I am so anxious for you to love her." 

For this, his mother was more important than his father, for he 
knew that she was skeptical of the stability of his emotional life. 
His divorce from Dorothy had hurt Joetta. It had seemed so un- 
necessary. But then, too, the marriage had seemed unnecessary. 
Joetta had a hard time believing that her son had grown up. It was 
as if she were still sitting on the couch in the parlor of their Dracut 
house waiting for the footstep. 

As the special correspondent to El Tiempo Evans Carlson, under 
his pseudonym "Incognito," had the pleasure of seeing his lengthy 
analysis of the sham battle given four columns on the front page. 
His report is interesting in the space he devoted to the use of air 
power. He showed how the defenders of Culebra Island not only 
had successfully "bombed" the ships of the attacking fleet, but had 
also drawn off the protecting Voights from the aircraft carrier 
Langley, leaving the fleet naked of air defense against a flight of 
Marine planes which attacked from another direction. 

In 1924, only a few somewhat unpopular officers spoke their piece 
out loud about the strategic use of the air. Brigadier General Billy 
Mitchell was fomenting revolution of a sort in the War Department. 
The Army and Navy together had but 800 planes, compared to 


France's 1250. Our entire air personnel was one-half that o France. 
But as a result of what he saw on Culebra Island, Carlson im- 
mediately put in for transfer to Pensacola Naval Air Station for 
training as a Marine flyer, 

My main reason for desiring aviation training [he told his 
father in a letter of March 1924], is the fact that the day is not 
far hence when this branch of the service will be the dominat- 
ing factor of all wars. The man who knows aviation and pos- 
sesses a knowledge of the other branches is the man who is 
coming into his own. I want that knowledge. Moreover, for the 
first time in my life I have a mature desire to fly. I have con- 
fidence in my ability and I have a "hunch" that it's the time to 
get the training. My "hunches" are always good ones. I had 
a "hunch" when I was down in the Port Orford country that 
it was time for me to get back into the service. And it wasn't 
a minute too soon. It's the same for aviation. . . . 

Carlson returned to Quantico, and Etelle Sawyer reported to 
Mrs. Hoover in Washington just an hour away. The Richmond, 
Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad from Quantico to Washing- 
ton had a steady customer, or rather a hardy customer, for only 
love could impel a man to make the trip daily on the dullest, 
dirtiest, most inefficient trackage in America. Any old Quantico 
Marine will confirm that. 

At a little South Portland church, they were married on April 29, 
1924. Joetta Carlson was ailing and neither she nor her husband 
could make the wedding. 

They drove to West Rutland for their honeymoon and stayed 
with Carlson's parents. On a wave of sentiment, Carlson drove his 
new wife to Peacham, Shoreham, Vergennes and New Haven 
Junction to have her see where he had lived and gone to school 
and worked and played. 

Back in Quantico, of course, parties were given for the Carlsons, 
for in this manner the matriarchate could make up its collective 
mind about the new member. Etelle Carlson was acceptable. She 
knew the language, and enjoyed the "code." There was no more 
that could be asked of her. 


Carlson looked around him. His life seemed good. Perhaps he 
would find himself in the Marine Air Corps. 


Beyond the seas 

He worked hard at Pensacola, and passed the five-hour check, 
then the twenty-five hour check was down on the books, and he 
felt fine. The time came for him to make his stunt check on the 
H-typc plane. His check pilot was a Navy man; his instructor had 
been a Marine. Their methods did not agree. He flunked his test 
and was busted out. 

Furious at what he considered an injustice, he would have pro- 
tested, but he realized that to do so would embarrass the Marine 
Corps. It wouldn't be quite "code." Thereupon, he asked the 
Aviation Board for permission to join a new class and start again 
from the beginning. The request was denied him on the grounds 
that it was "contrary to the policy of the Bureau of Aeronautics to 
re-detail for a course of instruction at Pensacola any officer who has 
once failed in flying." 

"Failure," he wrote his father, "is hard to take gracefully. But 
perhaps it was my destiny not to fly. Where to now? The wide 
world is a prospective station." 

This was June 1925. The half-year preceding was eventful. Trotsky 
had been expelled from Soviet power, King Boris of Bulgaria just 
missed being assassinated, Hindenburg was elected President of the 
Third Reich, the Kapp putschists and the German industrialists 
were working to overthrow the Weimar Republic. In China there 
were continued attacks on foreign imperialists by people who called 
themselves Nationalists and who were, according to old China hands, 


connected somehow with the "disreputable" revolutionist, Sun 

Again, Carlson requested the Major General Commandant of 
the Marine Corps to assign him to duty with the American Lega- 
tion in Peking. This was the second time he had put in for China. 
Each request followed a period in which he felt that he had failed. 
First, when he had joined the Marine Corps, and now when he 
was busted out of Pensacola. 

He had a hunch that perhaps China would give him what he 
was looking for. 

But "destiny" and Headquarters were slow to act. From Pensacola, 
Carlson was ordered to Hampton Roads, Virginia; and from there 
on the old transport U.S.S. Vega to San Diego to command a rifle 
company of the Fourth Regiment. It was here he started to read, 
to educate himself in the world outside of the Marine Corps. 

At first he read authors that gave a critical and a rebellious view 
of America: Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser and Sinclair Lewis. 
Then he read a biography of Walt Whitman by Cameron Rogers, 
and turned for the first time in his life to Leaves of Grass. What a 
continent it opened to him! Night after night he would read aloud 
the long rolling lines of poetry in his house at San Diego. 

From Whitman, he went to Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln. He 
moved from the criticism of our life in Dreiser and Lewis to its 
affirmation in Lincoln and Whitman. 

In the fall of 1926 Carlson had a brief tour of duty at Portland, 
Oregon, in command of a detachment ordered to guard the United 
States mails. Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler, who commanded 
the Western Mail Guard, when asked by a reporter of the Portland 
Telegram the reason the Marine Corps was so popular, replied : "It's 
because we've a lot of officers like Carlson who take care of their 
men." Butler had always liked Carlson. Once in a letter to him he 

You always do the right thing, and it is one of the mis- 
fortunes of this wretched system of promotion we have that 
you are only a lieutenant. Only wish I could make you a 


Most excellent reports of your detachment continue to come 
in here, and I want to congratulate you again and thank you 
for your fine work. You are a "hell" of a fine officer. 

On January 8, 1927, Carlson was ordered to leave Portland and 
to proceed immediately to San Diego for duty with an expeditionary 
force being organized there. When he arrived he found that Major 
A. A. Vandegrift had been designated by General Butler to organize 
a special battalion for service in Nicaragua. Vandegrift selected his 
own staff and he had chosen Carlson to be his operations and train- 
ing officer. 

But after a few days Vandegrift's battalion had its orders cancelled. 

The men and officers griped like hell. It was all "Nervous Nellie's" 
fault. That damned Kellogg! He let the damned pacifists and anti- 
imperialist Wobblies, Bolshies and Do-Goodies talk him out of it. 

In San Diego the stew boiled among Carlson and his friends and 
brother officers in the Regiment, among Vandegrift, Roy Hunt, Jim 
Underbill, "Johnnie" Clement, Tommy Watson, Harry Liversedge 
and Irv Odgers. They were all about his age, though some had been 
in the Corps much longer. As the years went on, they would all go 
up together; among them would be Colonels, Generals, and even 
a Commandant; they would one day together sweat and fight on 
Guadalcanal and Saipan. 

On January 31 secret orders arrived. The Fourth Regiment, under 
the command of Colonel Charles S. Hill, was to leave for "special 
temporary duty beyond the seas" aboard the U.S.S. Chaumont. 

"We're leaving soon," Carlson said to his wife. 


He smiled and shook his head. 


"The orders are secret," he said with a smile. "I can't tell you." 

"Where else in the world do they send Marines?" she asked. "If 
it isn't Nicaragua, it's China." 


That bloody Shanghai night 

According to the Marines, everyone but a few "milky-mouthed 
pacifists and radicals" seemed to take for granted that the Marines 
belonged in China. The popular barracks ideas went something like 

"The Chinks are an ignorant people and they get very violent. 
Well, some guy named Sun Yat-sen started a revolution against the 
Government. Maybe he started it years ago, maybe he just started 
it, but at any rate, these damned revolutionists are the same as the 
Russian Reds, and they're trying to kick out of China all the mis- 
sionaries and the people from the Standard Oil Company who have 
been China's best friends. Well, they're Americans! And they're 
being threatened and killed and raped. It's just horse sense to send 
us in to protect American lives and property. Anyway, we got to 
keep the Chinks from turning Red." 

Our official policy in those days differed from the conception of 
the average American and Marine only in that it was composed in 
language that exceeded it in elegance. The State Department, of 
course, knew much more than the citizen; it knew with precision 
that Sun Yat-sen had started his revolt against the corrupt Manchu 
Empire in 1911. It knew that we, in co-operation with the other great 
powers, particularly Great Britain, had not only refused Sun Yat-sen 
help but had, in 1923, deprived him of any possibility of success by 
refusing to turn over to him the customs of the South China ports 
which we controlled by treaty with the Manchus. Our government 
knew most definitely that Sun Yat-sen, his People's Government 
and his Kuomintang or Nationalist Party, isolated for years in 
Canton, intrigued against by England, France and the United States 
in cahoots with the Manchu war lords, harassed and bullied by the 
warships that moved freely up and down the great rivers of China, 


had only one great friend in the world the Soviet Union. The 
Chinese people, apart from the war lords and their mercenaries, 
turned to this friend with hosannas. Sun Yat-sen soon had what no 
one else in the world would give him in his fight against feudalism 
and corruption military advisers, arms and money. 

These were the facts: our wise men knew them, but instead of 
sending our official Lafayettes and our von Steubens to help the 
Chinese Revolution, we sent our Hessians, for by 1927 our own 
revolutionary spirit had become encrusted with the false complacence 
of rising prices in Wall Street. We who should have been the first 
to support Sun Yat-sen and his people's movement, were the most 
eager to see it fail, for oddly enough, we distrusted the full implica- 
tions of democracy everywhere, including our own country. 

There were, of course, unofficial Lafayettes in China. Theirs, the 
bravest history of our time, is recorded in Vincent Shccan's Personal 
History, Andre Malraux's Mans Fate and in China's Millions by 
Anna Louise Strong. But in the deaf minds of their own countries 
they were dishonored prophets whose lives were not eagerly pro- 
tected by American consuls and whose property, chiefly ideas, were 
better destroyed than saved. 

When Carlson and his fellow officers and men embarked on the 
Chaumont for "duty beyond the seas" they looked forward to a war 
against a rabble. If they did any reading or studying on China it 
was along the lines of a memorandum which had been circulated by 
official permission through the Fleet. 2 It was written by a Lieutenant 
Stanley A. Jones of the U.S.S. Cincinnati as a kind of pioneering 
effort in political orientation of the Armed Service. It was addressed 
to the crew. 

Lieutenant Jones asked and answered six questions. Between the 
questions and answers were many pages of official argument, cita- 
tions of treaties and apologia, the sum of which is this: (i) American 
citizens were in China to engage in legitimate trade by rights of 
treaty, and (2) while we would accept the right of the Chinese 

2 The full text may be read in The Dragon Stirs, by Henry Francis 
Misselwitz, correspondent of the New Yor^ Times. Published by Har- 
binger House, 1931, 


to rebel against their government we "should at least protect Ameri- 
can citizens . . . representatives of commercial interests . . . against 
the laws of a country where the loss of a human life is not often re- 
corded." (3) If China thinks our treaties, which give us rights which 
no foreigner has in our own country, are unequal and unjust, let 
her remember her barbaric past and her national indebtedness of 
one billion dollars. (4) All the great powers in Europe and the 
United States and Japan are determined to see that their foreign 
settlements in Shanghai which were granted to them by treaty shall 
remain unmolested against "the war lords, Chiang Kai-shek, etc. . . . 
(who) are often disloyal and will fight for anyone who is able to 
pay them." (5) Only Red Russia is aiding the Chinese people in 
their present stand, "trying to drag China down to her own level." 
(6) And, finally, "the Chinese are not capable of governing them- 

Lieutenant Jones's answers were what Carlson and his fellow 
Marines believed about China in 1927. They had no thought of a 
people's aspiration toward self-government, nor of a nation's dream 
of independence from foreign interference. China, to them, was a 
vast area of mob violence to which the Marines had come by the 
grace of God to establish law and order. 

The U.S.S. Chaumont with two battalions of the Fourth Marine 
Regiment aboard, moved slowly up the Whangpoo off Shanghai on 
the morning of February 24, 1927. Its captain's orders were to anchor 
off the Standard Oil docks, and stay there. Marine Colonel Hill 
and his men who were eager to get down to business "taming the 
wily Chinese" got the blue word that they were to remain aboard. 
They felt no less depressed when daily for the following three weeks 
they disembarked at the Standard Oil docks for close order drill on 
the Standard Oil golf course and returned to the ship. It looked 
for a while as if they had sailed seven thousand miles to drill on 
the clipped greens of an oil company country club. 

All around them the Whangpoo was filled with life and excite- 
ment. Foreign battleships rode smugly as far as the eye could 
reach. Transports, destroyers, patrol boats flew the flags of twenty 
nations. British Tommies, Jap and French Marines were being landed 


every day. They would be getting all the fun. And fun there was, 
not merely in the Club of Night on Szechuan Road and at the 
Trocadero on Range Road which the "old China hands" among the 
enlisted Marines described in rich and seductive language, but also 
in the enticing sound of the guns which came like mountain thunder 
across the greasy water from the battles being fought about twenty 
miles away between the Cantonese People's Army and the Northern 
Army of the Mandarin war lords. 

The days went by slowly, exasperatingly. China lay off the star- 
board quarter a hundred yards away, but it could have been a mil- 
lion miles away. When the men of the Third Battalion asked Carl- 
son, their Operations Officer, what the hell it was all about, he could 
tell them nothing. 

Even more frustrated than his men, he spent many hours on the 
deck of the Chaumont gazing inland at China, at the International 
Settlement, "the political ulcer on the face of China" as John 
Gunther was to call it. The modern gleaming white buildings, hotels 
and clubs where none but occidentals could enter rose from the China 
soil like a melange of San Francisco, Paris and London. But beyond, 
in the plains and gorges where the broad Yangtze flowed southward 
out of the heartland, was a China so vast and alien, so untouched and 
incomprehensible that, as he had dreamed, it appeared the final 
valley of adventure for him. He was thirty-one, and there was 
China . . . 

On March 5 the Fourth Regiment was ordered ashore to make 
a demonstration march through the International Settlement. It was 
a custom of the Shanghai Defense Force, consisting of the troops 
of Great Britain, Italy, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Japan and the 
United States to parade through the streets of Shanghai and the 
International Settlement in order to impress the Chinese with the 
strength and efficiency of the foreign forces. On the 5th of March 
the turn of the Marines had come. In the tugs of the Dollar Line, 
they landed at the Customs Jetty adjacent to the business district 
and marched up Nanking Road. Tin hats, rifles and machine guns 
glistening in the sun, they paraded smartly by the cheering for- 
eign residents and the silent Chinese who, no matter what politics 


they followed, watched this display of foreign force with clear 

The streets reminded Carlson of the Western Front; the sandbags, 
the machine-gun nests, the barbed-wire entanglements, the faces 
and uniforms of strange allies; British Sikhs, French Annamites, 
Italian, Japanese, French, Portuguese Marines, British Tommies. 

His first impression of China was people and smell. The streets 
were crowded with Chinese, moving each on the heels of the other 
like the senseless, purposeless threshing about of fingerling trout in a 
breeding pool. 

And then the smell! It came from the stagnant creeks and canals 
whose water lay under a greasy silk of scum. It came from stale, 
dead and drying fish, the bitter coal smoke from the docks, the 
sourness of decaying and unburied human flesh. The smell had an 
impact and a dimension as tangible as the endless crowds of 

He was a little frightened of China when he first saw her that day. 
China was too big; there were too many people, all anonymous. 
How could he ever get to know them, or even get to know one well 
enough to tell him apart from his brothers? Their language, dress, 
habits of life stretched in front of him like the Chinese Wall. Could 
he ever breach the wall? 

On the night of March 20, while Carlson looked at the lights of 
Shanghai from the Chaumont's deck, history was happening near by, 
behind his back; history that would, ten years later, almost to the 
day, prove that one hunch was at least correct, that China would 
end his search. 

That night a full moon softened the hard lines of the men-of-war 
astride the Whangpoo, and even brought a softness to the white 
modern buildings in the International Settlement. Tension among 
the foreigners relaxed in the waltzes from the Shanghai dance floors 
and in the Shanghai bars where conversation ran hopefully. 

"Hadn't the Reds at Hankow ordered Chiang Kai-shek to steer 
clear of Shanghai and head for Peking?'* 

"Whatever else you say of Galen and Borodin, the Bolshies who 
were doing all the advising for the Kuomintang, they know what 


side their bread is buttered on. A move into Shanghai would mean 
a war against Britain and the States. . . . Look at all our ships 
out there. . . . They'd have to eat out of our hands." 

But General Chiang Kai-shek, who had earlier decided that the 
Revolution was becoming too revolutionary, disregarded the orders 
from his Nationalist Government to move for Peking, and gave the 
word instead to advance against Shanghai. 

Across the newly green meadow lands shining in the moonlight, 
the dissident Chiang Kai-shek Kuomintang troops moved against 
the city, in whose streets, in air that was warm with Spring, de- 
tachments of 600,000 striking Shanghai workers were capturing 
points of resistance held by the defending troops of the Northern 
war lords. Guerrilla warfare shattered the silent alleys, dark clusters 
of nervous buildings were fretfully illumined by the flash of rifles. 
By morning, when Chiang Kai-shek's advance guard entered the 
city, there were few defenders to bar its way. 

"It was the work of laborers that conquered the city," the German, 
Gustav Amann, wrote in the first documented eye-witness report. 8 

By early Monday morning the people of Shanghai had won their 

And on that morning a second demonstration Marine Corps march 
was scheduled. They took off as they did before in a bright and 
sunny morning, down to the Customs Jetty, up Nanking Road, 
past more silent Chinese faces and the gaudy posters being carried 
by some of the 600,000 striking Shanghai workers. They noticed 
a number of Cantonese blue flags flying over store fronts where 
once had flown the ensign of the war lords. The streets had a ten- 
sion like a gigantic wound-up watchspring. At the end of the 
march, as the regiment started back to the ship, excited rumors 
went through the ranks as sounds of gunfire from the outskirts of 
the city came to them. However, the regiment boarded the tugs and 

8 His book, The Legacy of Sun Yaf-sen (Montreal: Louis Carrier, 
1929) incidentally contains an introduction by Karl Haushofer, the 
famous geopolitician, who saw clearly the intimate connection between 
the Chinese fight for liberation and the "woes and throes of central 


returned to the Chaumont. Fifteen minutes later, orders came to 
land again and to take up the defense of areas previously assigned 
by the Shanghai Defense Council. The Cantonese had arrived; the 
Reds were on the march; the lives and property of American citi- 
zens were being threatened. 

It is true that the International Settlement was endangered, but 
not so much by the Kuomintang troops as by the anti-imperialist 
spirit of its whole Chinese population, who were rebelling against 
the unjust special rights given to foreigners. 

The Marines moved into position in support of the British Dur- 
hams at Soochow Creek alongside the Bund and at the northern 
borders of the International Settlement. Ahead of them, a half mile 
away, was the North Station where sharp fighting was still going 
on between the advancing Kuomintang and some White Russians 
who had commandeered an armored train and were fighting with 
the despairing fury of men whose hatred of Communists was greater 
than their love of life. From houses on the other side of the creek, 
blue rags hung the color of the Nationalist flag and vertical 
banners with Chinese characters painted on them, saying: 


"I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the lines," 
he wrote home on the 24th, "and crawled around the outskirts of the 
Settlement during the day. ... I want to know what's going 

On the 24th, word came to Shanghai of the capture of Nanking 
by the Nationalist troops and the killing of one American and two 
Britishers. Three United States men-of-war fired on Nanking in 
reprisal, and everybody in Shanghai was talking of moving up 
to Nanking to wipe out the "bloody Chinks" in revenge against the 
"outrage." 4 

4 Compare this "outrage" with the one committed by the Japanese 
in 1937 when 42,000 Chinese in Nanking were murdered and the 
U.S.S. Panay sunk. We made a verbal and ineffectual protest and con- 
tinued to ship Japan the war material she needed for her Chinese war. 


Suddenly, for days everything became quiet in Shanghai. The 
Marines and their Allies continued to stare across the open barbed 
wire at the resentful faces of the Cantonese, but neither Chiang 
Kai-shek's soldiers nor the Chinese civilians made any attempts to 
move into the Settlement. Occasionally, Carlson was ordered to 
lead a detail of men in a raid on Chinese residences in order "to 
confiscate arms and inflammatory literature.'' But there wasn't 
much trouble at all. In fact, the eager Marine bullets were not used, 
nor were the "nickel-plated bayonets, the flash of which has a de- 
cided moral effect on a mob," as Carlson triumphantly described 
it in a letter. ... It looked very much as if Carlson was about to 
miss another war. 

However, we are watching with extreme interest [he wrote 
on April 9th] the situation in the North. The raiding of the 
Soviet Consulate at Peking may cause some trouble. England 
is undoubtedly only looking for a good excuse to declare war on 
the Moscow Government. Japan would welcome war with the 
Soviets. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Washington 
government wouldn't grasp the opportunity to wipe the Bolshe- 
vists off the map, once for all. Well, we're here for the job. 

As he wrote this letter he heard from the streets below Marines 
sing a parody of the Marine Hymn: 

From the dance halls of old Shanghai 

To the walls of old Nanking, 
We've met all kinds of women 

And we've met all kinds of men. 
If the Tommies and the Fourth Marines 

Ever join in fight again, 
It'll be good-by to old Chiang Kai-shek 

And to hell with Borodin. 

The raid on the Soviet Consulate was only one of the signs of 
what was to come. As is inevitable in all revolutions, the moment 
of victory is the moment, in Vincent Sheean's words, when those 
"who wished to change the conditions of life, and not simply the 
forms or names of governments," come into conflict with "those 


who took part in the revolution for their own advantage or were 
prevented by the tenacity of middle-class ideas from wishing to dis- 
turb the established arrangement of wealth." 5 

In every revolution there are always betrayers and compromisers: 
Caesar, Napoleon, Hamilton, Kerensky, Scheidemann and Chiang 
Kai-shek. Some of these men compromising, not only with the 
status quo but with the revolution as well, as did Hamilton, live 
on, not in infamy but as founding fathers. Others, like the German 
Scheidemann and Chiang Kai-shek, remained in power in an at- 
mosphere of disunity where civil war and fratricide were part of 
the air their country breathed. 

And so, at the moment of victory against the militaristic cor- 
rupters of China, the Kuomintang split into two sections. The 
right wing led by Chiang Kai-shek, encouraged by foreign applause 
at the raid on the Soviet Consulate in Peking, had among its patrons 
the Shanghai and Nanking bankers who, according to Vincent 
Sheean, arranged a $30,000,000 loan for Chiang Kai-shek, providing 
he fought the Reds. 

The left wing, with its headquarters in Hankow, was supported 
by the Communists, trade-unionists, many liberals and Kuomintang 
soldiers, and by Madame Sun Yat-sen, the widow of the great man 
of China. She opposed Chiang Kai-shek and his new advisers be- 
cause they had "turned the maxims of Sun Yat-sen into their op- 
posite; whereby the revolutionary regime had ceased to be revolu- 
tionary and had become the organ which, under the banner of the 
revolution, restored the very order of society which the great 
innovator Sun Yat-sen had gone forward to change." 6 

It is hardly speculation to say that this split and the subsequent 
entrenchment of Chiang Kai-shek determined, in large part, the 
history of the next twenty years not only of China but of the world. 
The failure of the Chinese Revolution of Sun Yat-sen who made a 
principle of intimate relations with the U.S.S.R. and collaboration 
with the Chinese Communists meant that Russia's isolation from 
the world became intensified. This, in turn, helped increase the 

6 Personal History, Doubleday, 1935. 
6 Gustave Amann: The Legacy of Sun Yat-sen. 


mutual suspicions between the U.S.S.R. and the capitalist West, and 
gave rise to the West's support of German Fascism and Japanese 
militarism as part of a cordon sanitairc against Russia. Out of it 
came the Munich appeasement, the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact 
of 1939, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the second of the great 
world wars. 

"Perhaps it is historically true," J. M. Keynes wrote, "that no order 
of society ever perishes save by its own hand." To the short-sighted 
and self-destructive European and American worlds, Chiang Kai- 
shek's "compromise" brought enormous relief. 

With Shanghai, $30,000,000 in Chinese currency in his hands, and 
a government at Hankow in the process of disowning him, Chiang 
Kai-shek began to uproot the forces under his feet who opposed 
him by remaining loyal to the National Government. His spies, 
police and troops were ordered to destroy all opposition within 
Shanghai, the same men and women who had made it possible for 
him to take the city. 

"The job was done with bloody thoroughness," writes Robert 
Berkov, Manager of the Shanghai Bureau of the Associated Press 
in his biography of Chiang Kai-shek. "Thousands of workers were 
shot, hundreds of intellectuals. Approximately fifteen hundred were 
wounded. . . . Victims were beheaded as well as shot. . . . The 
drive claimed several times as many victims as Hitler's blood purges 
in Berlin and Munich." 7 

During one of the nights of the long knives, Carlson was sitting 
in the writing room of the Shanghai Club composing a letter 
home. A few streets away, a slim and handsome Chinese, one of the 
leaders of the strike of 600,000 Shanghai workers who made pos- 
sible the victory for Chiang Kai-shek, cautiously opened the door 
of his hiding place to find himself confronted by officers of Chiang 
Kai-shek's Second Division with a warrant for his arrest. The 
Chinese, who knew that he was on Chiang's list for beheading, 
looked at the faces of the officers and figured his chances of escape. 

7 Robert Berkov, Strong Man of China, The Story of Chiang Kai-she^ 
(Boston, Houghton, Mifflin, 1938). 


He knew one man well. He had had him as a student at the 
Whampoa Military Academy. Once they had been genuinely fond 
of each other. Perhaps this old friend and student might help 
him, although who could tell these days? So he put aside thoughts 
of a fight and followed his captors. 

The name of the Chinese let it be remembered was Chou 

On the same night the Propaganda Commissioner of the Shang- 
hai Kuomintang, which was opposed to Chiang Kai-shek, went 
into hiding. He was a writer and a brave man, and his mouth would 
be better stopped up. His name was Andre Malraux, who would 
one day write Man's Fate and become a leader of the French under- 
ground against the Nazis. 

Chou En-lai, Malraux and history passed Carlson by, that bloody 
Shanghai night. It would take years before he caught up. 

In his letter home, written dutifully before going to sleep, Carl- 
son, parroting the vicious superior-race imperialistic phrases he 
had heard, said, "The only effective policy is to teach these Chinese 
a lesson. Unless we occupy Hankow, Nanking, Tientsin and Shang- 
hai, and severely trounce all who make overt acts, these people will 
lose their respect for foreigners." 


Men who are loyal and incorruptible 

For the Marines in Shanghai, the dog days of their occupation 
had come. Nothing was happening. Elsewhere in China, grave 
events were passing their crises : Chiang Kai-shek was consolidating 
his power, the Hankow Government was dissolved, the Russian 
advisers went back where they came from and an Army soon to 
become the Red Army under Chu Teh, Mao Tse-tung and Chou 


En-lai was being organized from the debris of the betrayal. And 
although all this was reflected in the secret inward life of Shanghai, 
nothing of "importance" was happening. 

The sulky summer weather, the monotony of the days, and the 
lack of action and opportunity to grasp at China depressed Carl- 
son to the degree that, for the first time in his life, he felt com- 
pletely without ambition. He was in China, and yet it seemed 
farther away than on the day he had joined the Marines and had 
volunteered for service there. Even the full dress parades for Gen- 
eral Smedley Butler who commanded all the Marines in China 
failed to bring him their customary excitement. Doggedly he ful- 
filled what was required of him in his duties; routinely he took 
his daily exercises at the French Club gym to keep in condition in 
order to ward off the cholera which killed whites with the same 
dispassion with which it killed yellow men. He read little; he talked 
less; he let himself slide on the toboggan of slippery days. His reso- 
lution to break through the Wall of China had been forgotten. 

Through his lethargy and the fogs of inaction his thoughts con- 
stantly went back to his father. 

*Tm proud of you," he wrote in a birthday letter. "Proud of your 
ideas, of your high standards of life, of your spiritual achievements; 
just of you as a father. The earth would be a Paradise if all fathers 
were like you. . . . Your son loves you." 

He heard occasionally from Dorothy and received pictures of 
Evans, Jr., now ten years old. The boy looked like him, the long 
face, the light eyes. The nose was shorter, thank God. Carlson wrote 
an occasional long letter to his son, full of advice and counsel, as 
his own father had written to him. 

He requested duty as an observer in the interior, and was turned 
down. Only Shanghai was left, and the heat evaporated his blood, 
the dull duty emptied his mind. He felt only discontent, fatigue 
and failure. He declined in health and lost fifteen pounds. 

Then slowly, as things happen in life, events and people moved 
in on him and brought a change that was to begin the march of 
influences which would bring him, ten years later, to a Hankow 
dinner table with Chou En-lai. 


The September weather lightened Shanghai and dissipated the 
cottony heat. On the 20th, word came that Carlson had passed his 
examination for first lieutenant. The promotion came exactly ten 
years to the day of his promotion to the same grade in the Army. 
In a letter home, he made special mention of this coincidence, for 
like men who have a sense of destiny, he was always aware of the 
special juxtapositions and conjunctions of time. 

At the end of September Etelle Carlson arrived on the Siberia 
Maru, and with her came a sense of the continuity of the immediate 
past when Carlson had been so energetic and full of plans. He 
started to write again, and did two pieces for the I^eathernec^, the 
Marine Corps magazine. These articles were not important by them- 
selves but they revived Carlson's interest in what was going on 
around him. 

In June 1928, the sequence of events which stirred him out of his 
dullness came to a climax. He was given a new job as Regimental 
Intelligence Officer. And it was this that opened to him the minds of 
men who, each in his own way, moved Carlson closer to the ful- 
fillment of his destiny. 

The first of these was Admiral Mark L. Bristol, Commander in 
Chief of the Asiatic Fleet, who had taken over the command from 
Admiral C. S. Williams. 

Admiral Bristol was an extraordinary Naval diplomat. Unlike 
so many of his brother admirals, he was genuinely interested in the 
well-being of the people to whom he came as America's representa- 
tive. He was determined to get the truth, and he let it be known 
that he wanted to meet and talk with everyone, American business- 
men, American missionaries, old China hands, and particularly those 
Chinese who were directing the course of the Nationalist revolu- 

Bristol himself was an old friend of China, having been on duty 
there as commander of the cruiser Albany in 1911 when Sun Yat- 
sen overthrew the Manchu dynasty. It was he who had ordered 
fired the first foreign salute to the new Chinese Republic. And now, 
seventeen years later, he could listen with understanding to the as- 
pirations of the Chinese leaders, know their problems and the com- 


plcxities of their efforts. Bristol's willingness to confer with the 
Chinese revolutionists stirred considerable criticism of him by the 
old die-hards who, in the ancient tradition of the Tories, persisted 
in their gross admiration of the war lords with whom they could do 
business. Criticism of Bristol was strengthened by the delay of our 
State Department under President Coolidge to recognize the Kuo- 
mintang Nanking Government. 

Carlson and Bristol didn't get on well at first owing to the inbred 
mutual suspicion of the Navy and Marines. At first, Bristol seemed 
rather irritating in his insistence that he required from his Intelli- 
gence Officers a solid knowledge of China. But gradually Carlson 
became impressed with Bristol's humane and progressive attitude. 
The Admiral was for admitting Chinese to all the foreign clubs. 
"Let's treat them as equals in all respects," Bristol said, "for the 
truth is, they are by no means our inferiors." He saw that in the 
great reawakening of the Chinese people was enormous progress; 
that China was following, in her own time and by her own methods, 
the long line of progressive revolutions among which our own in 
1776 is numbered. Most of all, he believed that unity would come 
to China and that the people would finally assert themselves con- 
sciously for full independence. He encouraged Carlson to investi- 
gate for himself. 

This was new kind of talk for Carlson. He had not yet met among 
officers and American officials of responsibility such earnestness, 
friendliness for a foreign people, and so urgent a demand for the 
whole truth. There was an instant recognition in him, and a re- 
versal of his original attitude that all that was required was to teach 
the Chinese respect for foreigners. 

Natively conscientious, Carlson might have by himself fulfilled 
the requirements of an Intelligence Officer to understand and study 
the political milieu in which he worked, but with the added com- 
bination of Bristol's inspiration, he poured all his energies into 
study. He read Chinese history until he could trace the torturous 
spirals and interweavings of five thousand years. He studied the 
Three People's Principles of Sun Yat-sen, the Bible of the progressive 
Chinese, and grasped the thousand-threaded cloth of the modern 


revolutionary movement. In order to learn the cast of living char- 
acters, he memorized the English translation of the Chinese Who's 
Who. He knew what province every leader came from, what his 
education was, what role he played in the 1911 revolution and 
who his friends were. He began the study of the Chinese language 
itself, that brain-breaking task of memorizing hundreds of distinct 
characters and inflections and combinations. 

He tried to put into words what he had learned. He wrote five 
articles for the Walla Walla, a weekly magazine published and 
edited by the enlisted men of the Fourth Marines. This scries was a 
serious attempt to describe for his men the organization of the new 
Chinese Republic. They arc little classics of exposition which in- 
cluded, wherever possible, the common experience of the American 
and the Chinese. 

"We of the Fourth Regiment," he wrote in 1928, "if we but pause 
to realize it, are living in China during a tremendously interesting 
period. The struggle of a nation to find herself and to evolve an 
efficient government is an adventure that we in this age are seldom 
privileged to see. We are occupying box seats for an experiment in 
government that can best be compared to that made by our fore- 
fathers during the period 1783 to 1800 when they struggled against 
opposition at home and abroad to erect a central government in the 
United States." 

He described the Five Yuan system of the Chinese, in which our 
three divisions of government, Executive, Legislative and Judicial, 
are augmented by a Civil Service and a Control with equal rank 
to the others. 

In his fourth article, he expressed a hope that this experiment in 
democracy would succeed. 

"It really depends on the ability of the Kuomintang Party to select 
for officials, not only in the National Government but in the Prov- 
inces, men who are loyal and incorruptible." 

These five articles brought demands on him from enlisted men 
and officers to continue with a weekly feature on the current Chinese 
political situation. This he did, and his concise and factual reports 
on those days in which China's Republic was being unified are an 


extraordinarily rich source of information, much of which has 
found its way into many books on China. 

His writing was not limited to the Walla Walla, for in the mid- 
dle of 1928 he came to know anti-Japanese }. B. Powell, an Ameri- 
can who, besides being a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, 
owned and edited the China Weekly Review, an English-language 
paper published in Shanghai. He was the man who gave many young 
American newspapermen their first real break in the Orient, and 
he asked Carlson to write book reviews and articles for the Review. 

"If I do them," he warned Powell, "I want to do them on my own 
terms. If I disagree with the author I want to say so. And I don't 
want anybody rewriting me." 

Powell agreed. 

Reviewing books is an excellent way of adding to an education. 
Powell gave him books on the Pacific and on subjects related to 
American intervention in China, South and Central America. Per- 
haps it seemed to the editor that it was only justice to have critiques 
of America's foreign policy analyzed by a Marine Corps Intelligence 
Officer in China. 

Carlson fell for the bait, if bait it was. In all his reviews he took 
a consistent position that imperialism was evil but that the United 
States was not an imperialist power. In a review of The Mastery of 
the Pacific by Sir Frank Fox, Carlson wrote: 

The United States has consistently refused to be a party to 
any agreement or policy which contemplates the use of force 
to impose governments on a foreign people. Her hand is al- 
ways extended ... as to an equal in need of advice and guid- 
ance. . . . 

It is rather an ironic climax to this peculiar blindness of attitude 
that within a year from the time he wrote the review of Sir Frank 
Fox's book he would be fighting to extend American interests in 
Nicaragua. Only then he would learn, in the black wilderness of 
Jalapa and Quilili, that truth which Lawrence of Arabia discov- 
ered for himself: "To make war upon rebellion is messy and slow, 


like eating soup with a knife." He would learn there, and later, that 
our nation was not free of the taint of imperialist greed. 

It was through Powell that he met Edgar Snow, who was destined 
not only to become Carlson's best friend but also to set him finally 
on the road where he would come face to face with the promise of 
himself after all his years of searching. Edgar Snow arrived in Shang- 
hai out of the Missouri School of Journalism and the Kansas City 
Star. He was on his way to Madagascar, and intended to stay over 
in China for a month. His month lasted twelve years. He had a life- 
hungry yen for adventure that was as huge as Carlson's, and he 
knew clearly that he wanted to get it by being a good reporter. 
Younger than Carlson, he had a flexible boyishness and a taste for 
hell-tearing that had long ago been put down by the tall New Eng- 
lander. Snow not only had a nose for news, he had a nose for truth. 
To this he added a deep feeling for people. Comparing him with 
other reporters of his generation, we would find that where they 
saw in China a great story he saw a great people. It was this that 
made his book Red Star Over China a reporter's classic of our time, 
to be remembered when most others, with the exception of John 
Reed's Ten Days That Shoo\ the World, Vincent Sheean's Personal 
History and Duranty's 7 Write As I Please, are long catching dust 
on the ten-cent box in secondhand stores. 

In addition to Snow, Carlson, always eager to know writers, be- 
came acquainted with Henry Misselwitz of the New Yor{ Times, 
Morris Harris of the Associated Press, Owen Lattimore, and Hallett 
Abend of the New Yor\ Times. He got on well with all but 
Hallett Abend, whose dispatches gave the impression that he was 
anti-Kuomintang and pro- Japanese. Abend writes of this: 

At the Intelligence Office of the Fourth U.S. Marines my 
name was anathema in 1929 and 1930. That office was then 
under the direction of Lieutenant E. Carlson, who later as a 
Lieutenant-Colonel distinguished himself during the raid upon 
Makin Island and at Guadalcanal. Carlson instructed his staff 
to ignore me completely, never to come to me for information 


and not to take any of his releases to me. He even intimated to 
his men that I was probably in the pay of Japan. . . . 

Perhaps Carlson's attitude was merely a pale reflection of 
the hostility shown to me by the late Admiral Mark L. Bristol, 
at that time Commander-in-Chief of our Asiatic Fleet. I had 
never liked the Admiral and he knew it, and my analytical 
articles on the China situation differed entirely from his 
absurdly optimistical forecasts of the firm establishment of 
internal peace and harmony. 8 

Abend's activities by his own admission could well constitute 
sufficient reason for the suspicion that he had a bias in favor of 
the "die-hards and imperialist-minded groups' 1 who, as he described 
it in his book, "welcomed my arrival (in Shanghai) warmly." Both 
Bristol and Carlson could not fail to meet with antipathy anyone 
who was attempting to win America's sympathy for Japan's moves 
into China. 

Carlson's work as Intelligence Officer, of course, was his first 
concern; his writing and studying merely augmented and enriched 
it. Carlson had the qualities which go to make a good Intelligence 
Officer, discretion, logic and sympathy. A fourth aptitude shrewd- 
ness was also his, but not in the conventional sense of the word. 
Rather, as Edgar Snow described him, he gave the impression of 
being so naive and so straightforward that one might think he could 
easily be fooled. This simplicity which was entirely genuine won the 
confidence of strangers who had important information to give, 
and the respect of professional peddlers who had information to 
sell. The former believed in Carlson's unaffected honesty and told 
him what they knew; the latter, convinced that no Intelligence Offi- 
cer could be that honest and that Carlson was putting on an act, 
thought they saw enormous and diabolic cleverness beneath the 

When he let it be known through Shanghai that he would not pay 
one cent for secret information, the businessmen of espionage were 

8 From My Life in China, by Hallett Abend (New York: Harcourt, 
Brace and Company, 1943). 


Free-lance spying, as distinguished from the organized espionage 
of governments, is the bourse of confusion. Most of it is rumor, 
watered stock and speculation. Men, women and children in such 
centers of the industry as Shanghai peddle information like ciga- 
rettes. It's a way of making a living, and in this market there is no 
code of honor. 

Carlson tells a story that is an illustration not only of the con- 
fusion of the business but also of the way his method paid of?. 

One day, at Carlson's office appeared a slight red-faced, bald- 
headed Russian who introduced himself as Mr. Dick. He said that 
he had been an Intelligence Officer for Michael Borodin, the Kuo- 
mintang's Soviet adviser, who had several years before retreated to 
Moscow as a result of the victory of the right wing under Chiang 

"Lieutenant Carlson, I understand that you do not pay for in- 
formation," Mr. Dick said. 

"That's right," Carlson replied. 

"And why not, sir?" 

"It's simple," Carlson said. "Information is like every other com- 
modity. If there's a demand for it backed with purchasing power, it 
will be manufactured." 

"But without money, sir, no one will give you anything," Mr. 
Dick said in the kindly fashion of an elderly brother giving advice. 

"None of the manufactured kind, that's true." 

"And the other kind, sir?" 

"It will be given to me gratis because no one else will have any 
use for it." 

Mr. Dick thought it over while he lit his Russian cigarette care- 
fully. "I think I understand you," he said gently. He then told 
Carlson that he had given up all thought of returning to the Soviet 
Union. He didn't like it there any more. And now he was prepared 
to serve as a spy for any power who would pay him. Carlson was 
firm, however, about his principle of not paying, and Mr. Dick 

Several weeks went by and Mr. Dick called on Carlson again. 

"This time, sir," he said, "I am willing to make the United States 


a present of some information gratis. Just to prove my competence." 

Carlson accepted it, of course, with thanks, and found that it was 
rather important. 

A week later he received a call from a French Secret Service man 
who wanted to know if he was acquainted with a Mr. Dick. "I am," 
Carlson said. 

u Be careful of him," the Frenchman said. "He's working for the 

A month or so after that, a British C.I.D. agent paid Carlson a 
visit to inform him to watch out for a Russian named Dick who for 
certain was working for the Japs. 

It was about this time that Carlson left China for the States and 
didn't return until 1933 when he again resumed his duties as Intelli- 
gence Officer with the Fourth Regiment at Shanghai. Some time 
after his arrival, he received a telephone call from a Chinese ask- 
ing him to hurry over to a certain apartment in a house in the 
Chinese district where something of great importance would be given 

When he arrived at the apartment he found his old friend, Mr. 
Dick. "Do you still retain your prejudice against paying for informa- 
tion?" Mr. Dick asked. 

"I do," Carlson replied. 

Mr. Dick smiled broadly at that, almost with pleasure. Then he 
asked whether the United States in the person of Carlson minded 
walking out of the house with him and driving him into the Inter- 
national Settlement. Carlson saw no objection and said so. Mr. 
Dick took him to the window and showed him two half-breed 
Japanese loitering across the street. "They are waiting to kill me," 
he said without being dramatic. "I had to get help and you are the 
only man in Shanghai I can trust. Anyone who won't pay for espio- 
nage is either a fool or an honest man. I know you're no fool." 

Carlson asked him why he was being threatened. 

"I have been working for the Japs, sir," Mr. Dick said with an 
ironic sigh. "But no more." 

And then he gave Carlson a small bundle of papers that contained 
invaluable source material for Naval Intelligence. 


"But if you're not working for the Japs, then for whom?" Carlson 

Mr. Dick smiled and said nothing. 

"And if you're working for the British or the French or the Dutch 
why don't you give them this stuff instead of me?" 

"I'm not working for the British or the French or the Dutch," 
he said. 

"Then for whom?" 

Mr. Dick rubbed his bald head gently. "I'll let you guess," he 
said, and said no more. 

Carlson took him out of the house, and into the International 
Settlement. And he never saw him again. 

And when asked the question as to whom he thought Dick had 
been working for Carlson gave an Intelligence Officer's discreet 
smile and said, "I'll let you guess now." 9 

By September 1929 the end of his tour of duty on Shanghai was 
approaching. He had been out there for thirty months. He had 
done a job which, in the main, satisfied him. In the line of duty he 
had met fleetingly such personages as Chiang Kai-shek and Dr. 
H. H. Kung. He had traveled to Nanking and Soochow and seen 
China beyond its treaty ports. He had learned some Chinese, and 
something about China. He had studied the Chinese Revolution 
and saw that with all its weakness it was a good thing for China. 
He had read a great many books; gained a smattering of Spanish 
in the event he was sent to Nicaragua. He had written a few things, 
and they had been liked. He had made friends, Bristol, Powell, 
Snow. And he would leave behind him a lasting monument to his 
Intelligence Section a detailed map of the International Settle- 
ment, two hundred feet to an inch. Most of the credit for the map, 
of course, went to the field men and draughtsmen who made it 
possible, but Carlson had initiated the work and through months 
of fret and worry had persisted in completing it. 

He was thirty-three, had done well enough for his people to have 
pride in him, and he knew what his life would be. 

9 My guess was the U.S.S.R. 


The Marines, he thought, had brought him all that he had hoped 
for that day in Oregon five years before when he had tramped the 
Marshfield trails and asked: What shall I do? He had sought ad- 
venture and received it; strange places and saw them; time 
to read and study and write and it was given him. 

But more than all these, he had the beginnings, the glimmer of 
what, unconsciously, he needed a cause: China! 

A man's progress, said Emerson, is "an unfolding, like the vege- 
table bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowl- 
edge, as the plant has root, bud and fruit." 

Carlson was bound by his own speed limit. He would not be 
rushed faster than his nature's logic could sustain. 


An eagerness for battle 

He had tasted strange places and he wanted more. When Head- 
quarters returned him to the States for duty and sent him from one 
post to another, he was unhappy. Twice he volunteered for more 
duty in China; twice he requested service in Nicaragua. They told 
him he'd have to wait. 

In October 1929, the depression moved in on us. We were fright- 
ened. But not everybody. Carlson, for example. Nor were many of 
his fellow officers at Bremerton Navy Yard, Norfolk Navy Yard, 
Philadelphia Navy Yard or at Quantico. 

No, in the officers' clubs and at their field messes there was inter- 
ested talk about everything except the depression. Occasionally 
it was mentioned with distaste, as men might speak of a plague in 
Indo-China. In short, with the rest of his fellow soldiers living in 
the tight and depression-proof military island, Carlson was unaffected 
by the national tragedy. 

i'hoto hv AV"' >'<*''* tlcf aid 7 ritn 

to Tom, the A, and 

at the 

Plymouth, Connecticut, 


He was at Quantico and near enough to his folks to spend his 
Christmas with them. It would be the first Christmas in eighteen 
years. Carlson came home to the same family but to a new parish. 
In January 1926 the Reverend Carlson had been called to the 
Plymouth, Connecticut Congregational Church. It was destined 
to be his last parish, from which he would retire in June of 1944. 

Plymouth is a quiet little town of about 6,000. It looks like a 
model of a Southern New England community with large shade 
trees, a village green around which are clustered the important 
buildings, the churches and the schoolhouscs. In spirit it was not 
far removed from West Rutland or Peacham or Shoreham. 

It was a good Christmas for Carlson. When he drove up to the 
white frame house with Etelle Carlson and stamped through the 
fresh Connecticut snow and saw the bright green holly wreaths in 
the windows, it was just what he wanted to see. 

His father had not changed much. He was still erect and still 
hearty; his laugh and the great gentleness on his face were yet clear. 
Joetta, too, had not changed. She had maintained spiritual firmness 
in the face of continuing phlebitis. From her wheel chair, her pride 
and aggressiveness were not one whit diminished. 

On Christmas Eve, they trimmed the tree together and brought in 
their gifts. After dinner they gathered around the old Knabe piano 
they'd had since Shoreham, and sang the old Norwegian carols 
Father Carlson remembered from his youth. 

Thomas Carlson introduced his son to Plymouth which he him- 
self had come to love. They tramped the snowy streets, met neigh- 
bors and parishioners, hiked along United States Highway 6 to 
Terryville, had some johnnycake with friends, delighted in the smell 
of the blue wood smoke rising warm and sweetly bitter, helped a 
fellow shovel a path through the snow to his barn, attended a church 
social where Carlson said a few words about China to the men's 
club. After five days, Plymouth became his home town just as much 
as Shoreham and Peacham and San Diego and San Francisco. 

It was a good, rich Christmas. Perhaps the best he had ever 
known or would ever know. 


When word came in April of 1930 for Carlson to report to the 
Commanding Officer of the Guardia Nacional of Nicaragua, he 
was delighted. 

According to the Historical Section of the United States Marine 
Corps, the first landing of Marines in Nicaragua for purposes of 
protecting American lives and property took place in 1853. Then 
it was the property of the American Steamship Company which 
seemed to be endangered by "local political disturbances." From 
1853 until the establishment of President Franklin Roosevelt's Good 
Neighbor Policy eighty years later, United States Marines have been 
the armed instrument of our policy of intervening in Nicaraguan 
politics. Our reasons for this were the simple reasons of imperialism: 
we had investments in that country; we bought most of her exports 
and sold to her most of her imports. Later, our greater national 
interests were involved in the possibilities of an Atlantic-Pacific 
canal across Nicaragua. Toward the end of keeping in power 
Nicaraguans who would deal kindly with our businessmen and State 
Department we supported any Nicaraguan revolution or counter- 
revolution designed to protect our $15,000,000 investment. Although 
Charles Evans Hughes, in 1923, signed a well-intentioned treaty 
refusing to recognize any government in Central America set up 
by force, by 1926 our State Department ignored the fact that ship- 
ments of munitions were being sent from American ports to a 
General Chamorro, the front man for Adolfo Diaz whom Carleton 
Beals called "a lickspittle for Chamorro and American interests 
for 17 years." 

There were many Nicaraguans, of course, who fought against 
American imperialism. Augusto Calderon Sandino was such a man. 
In 1912, a young man, he had lost his farm when American bankers 
took over the Nicaraguan credit and financial system. From that 
time on he fought the American interventionists. Many times he was 
tempted with political honors and money with which to buy back 
his farm. According to Carleton Beals, the foremost authority on 
Central American politics and men, Sandino refused to be bought 
off. However, our State Department and newspapers called San- 
dino and his followers "bandits." Our Naval and Marine forces 


were called on to exterminate him as a threat to the lives and se- 
curity of Americans doing business there. 

In 1927 President Coolidge, moved by the indignation of his own 
people against our intervention, sent Henry L. Stimson to Nicaragua 
to work out an arrangement between the opposing political parties 
whereby our Marines would supervise the next three elections 
and then withdraw. During that time, our Marines would organize 
a Nicaraguan militia called the Guardia National whose mission 
would be to defend its country from invasion, bandits and re- 
bellion. 10 

Sandino, however, was not in accord with the Accord of Tipitapa. 
He was a fervent Nationalist and opposed to even benevolent inter- 
vention. As Will Rogers had put it: "Our Marines are doing all 
they can to see that there are fewer Sandino voters to supervise 
and Sandino is doing all he can to see that there are fewer Marines 
to supervise." 

"Tell your people," Sandino said to Carleton Beals in the first 
interview he gave an American reporter, "that there may be bandits 
in Nicaragua but they are not necessarily Nicaraguans." 

In May 1930 Carlson landed at Corinto, Nicaragua, was commis- 
sioned a Captain in the Guardia and ordered by Colonel Robert L. 
Denig to leave for Jicaro, an isolated backwoods jungle village, with 
thirty-one men to operate against Pedro Altamirano, one of San- 
dino's lieutenants. 

Carlson had been warned to be very careful, for the week before 
in Jicaro several Nicaraguan Guardias had turned a machine gun 
on the officers' quarters and killed two. 

Before leaving for Jicaro, he told his men in broken Spanish, "I 
trust you, amigos. I will see that you have food and shelter. It is to 
the benefit of all of us to bring peace and security to your great 

On the 30th of May he reached his post and moved into one of 
Sandino's former headquarters. 

He waited for a battle. Nothing happened. 

10 The Marine Corps Gazette of August 1937 published an article by 
Carlson, relating the history of the Guardia Nacional. 


Two weeks later, he was transferred from Jicaro to Jalapa. Here 
he was in command of thirty-five Guardias. The town had about 
thirty mud shacks which for that part of the country was a good- 
sized pueblo. 

I like the duty [he wrote his young brother Tom]. I am Jefe 
of this part of the country, bandit activity lending a touch of 
danger, which is stimulating. Problems are constantly arising 
which call for the use of initiative and ingenuity. I am master- 
ing the language rapidly and give all orders, both written and 
verbal, in Spanish. I feel that I am accomplishing something. 

Our quarters look like one of the stockades of the old 
western plains. My front door is barricaded and prepared as a 
machine gun position. The patio in back is surrounded with 
barbed wire entanglements. I have a heavy Browning machine 
gun, a heavy Lewis gun and two sub-Thompsons. If I don't 
get a contact with the bandits soon I am going to be dis- 

Everything is very quiet. The natives are nervous and think 
this place is going to be attacked but I have my doubts. Only 
a fool would try to rush us here. 

These Guardia are loyal chaps and when properly handled 
they make good soldiers. I flatter myself that I know how to 
handle them. 

Several nights a week he held a court for the citizens of Jalapa, 
acting as judge, jury and prosecutor. He refused to use an interpreter 
and tried every case in Spanish, constantly referring to his big 
English-Spanish dictionary, and warning the litigants to speak 
slowly and simply so that he could understand. He played Solomon 
and Dorothy Dix in disputes that ranged from murder to obstreper- 
ous fathers-in-law. His jurisprudence was as just and as simple as 
he could make it: hear both sides, get as much disinterested evidence 
as possible, make a decision, persuade the guilty party to admit his 
guilt and the wronged party to admit either understanding or for- 
giveness. He never punished a man unless he admitted his guilt. 

At eight-thirty on the evening of July Qth, a badly frightened 
Nicaraguan galloped down the rain-beaten trail into Jalapa yelling 


at the top of his voice that bandits n were looting the town of Por- 
tillo. Carlson was notified immediately and sent for the alcalde of 
Jalapa and five other prominent citizens, requesting them to provide 
him with seventeen fresh horses, his own being tired out and in 
pasture. Full of hope for combat, he took the trail for Portillo, three 
miles away, with sixteen enlisted men, leaving nineteen under Lieu- 
tenant Walery, the only other American in his force, to defend 

He felt uneasy about taking out a patrol. There had been some 
talk about an attack on Jalapa, and he was afraid that the disturb- 
ance at Portillo was a ruse to divide his strength. But he figured he 
could make the round trip in two hours, and he was confident that 
Walery and his men could hold out that long against any attack 
the Sandinistas would be able to make. 

It was a dark trail and rain made it darker and slow going. By 
ten Carlson's patrol reached the outskirts of Portillo. The pueblo 
was quiet, the streets empty, the houses without lights. The sound 
of the rain was the only life. He ordered his men to enter the houses 
cautiously. The houses were as empty as the street except one. 
Here a family was found, three children and an old man who could 
not run with their neighbors to hide in the mountains because of 
illness. They told Carlson that the bandits numbered about a hun- 
dred, that their Jcfc was Simon Gonzalez, and that they had left 
about an hour before up the Chusli trail. Carlson informed his six- 
teen men what the situation was and moved forward in pursuit. 
He was determined to find the bandits and fight it out with 

An eagerness for battle had seized him. This would be his debut, 
though it was hard to realize it. He had been a soldier for 18 years 
and he had a keen desire to know what battle was like. 

The rain slackened and stopped. A full moon fought vainly with 
heavy clouds. An hour up the trail, Corporal Vicente Olivas, full of 
chagrin, reported to Carlson that four men were missing. Carlson 

11 Frequently under the guise of national patriotism, some Nicaraguans 
actually were looters and bandits. This is a characteristic excrescence on 
all national-liberation movements. 


ordered a ten minute rest. The men didn't come back and it was 
clear they had deserted. Corporal Olivas was deeply ashamed. 

The odds were lengthened with the desertion. A hundred against 
twelve. He decided to push the pursuit anyway. 

"It wasn't merely a question of finding and destroying the enemy," 
Carlson said later. "This operation, as small as it was, contained 
rather important morale and political elements. If even partially 
successful, it would increase the Guardia's confidence in itself and 
prove to the people that it could act promptly in suppressing 
bandit activity. Moreover, I had confidence in these men. There was 
a lively farm boy, Teodocia Salgado, who lived near Portillo and 
loved being a good soldier, and Vicente Olivas, a husky, conscien- 
tious and alert sugar mill worker and Huberto Avendano who used 
to sing on the trails, and at the post would bring me English les- 
sons for corrections in grammar. The risk of meeting a hundred 
bandits with twelve men was worth taking. There was always a 
chance of surprising them." 

At one-thirty in the morning Carlson, who was up in advance of 
the patrol, picked up the signs of a body of men. A little while 
later crossing a river just south of the pueblo of Pasmata, Teodocia 
Salgado sighted the rear of the enemy column, three hundred 
yards away. Carlson directed his men to dismount, and secure their 
mounts in the heavy brush. 

Silently his patrol moved upon the unsuspecting enemy, now 
clearly visible by their white shirts against the dark jungle growth. 
When they came to within 150 yards, Carlson ordered his men to 
fire. Five of the enemy fell at the first burst. Instantly the others 
dropped behind trees and opened an intense fire. Carried away by 
their success, several Guardias started a charge, yelling "Viva la 
Guardia National!" But Carlson ordered them back. A few minutes 
later enemy fire slackened and ceased. The rain started again, and 
from the darkness up ahead came the pathetic cry of a wounded 
man calling, "Mamita . . . Mamita" 

Carlson rounded up his men, saw that none was hurt, and con- 
tinued the pursuit. But suddenly the jungle had built a wall around 
the enemy. All through that night and the day following Carlson 


and his patrol sought them. But there was no enemy. The Guardia 
would enter tiny pueblos and find men working in the fields, but 
none had seen or heard a thing. The great magic of guerrilla war- 
fare where an army and a people are one angered Carlson. Simon 
Gonzalez and his men had vanished. 

It was Carlson's first lesson in this kind of war, and he smarted 
under his failure to match Gonzalez's skill. Restless until he found 
out the magic, he returned to Jalapa, left Walery in charge, put 
on old clothes and went off scouting alone in the thick Nicaraguan 
jungles. He never learnt just where Gonzalez had disappeared to, 
but he learnt how. Guerrilla warfare meant never fighting in a fixed 
position, always moving, picking out your own terrain. He learnt 
that it requires special tactics to outflank or surround a guerrilla 
band. And he learnt other things: how to move in the jungle at 
night, how to live in it, how to make it a place of protection. He 
worked out a method of offense against such tactics. Never to stay 
in one place. To move as often, as far, but faster than the guerrilla 
enemy. Only then could he be outflanked and surrounded. 

On the eighth of December he was transferred from Jalapa to 
Nicaragua's capital, Managua, where despite severe malaria he 
assumed the duties of Department Commander of Managua and 
Corozo, President of the General Court Martial, Commander of the 
Guardia detachment, and later of Chief of Police. 

Christmas found him feverish, overworked and homesick. But his 
longing for home was appeased somewhat when Etelle Carlson 
arrived from the States. 

It was payday at Carlson's headquarters and about fifty men were 
lined up in the drill field in front of the building waiting for their 
money. Suddenly the building shivered violently. Walls and ceil- 
ing descended in fragments. Carlson was thrown from his feet. 
He started to get up, was thrown down again. Dust rose in vol- 
canic clouds. 

Ten seconds of silence. The earthquake was over. 

He crawled out of what was left of his building. The city was 
silent, then suddenly exploded with cries of pain. 


Carlson saw a man covered by the ruins and pulled him out. He 
yelled for men to search the ruins for other casualties. 

Over the city a huge fire hung like a curtain from the sky. 

For four days he and his comrades got food and water to the 
people of Managua, cared for the injured, counted and buried 400 
dead. Step by step, a relief organization was built. 

When it was all over, Carlson broke down. Hard work, anxiety, 
sleeplessness and malaria sent him to the hospital. The medicos 
on the scene thought he'd better return for hospitalization in the 

While in the Managua hospital, Carlson wrote a letter of confes- 
sion to his father: 

During certain periods I accepted blindly the precepts of the 
orthodox churches, hoping for a Divine Revelation which 
would seal my convictions and eradicate my doubts. The 
Revelation never came and I berated myself for being a hypo- 
crite, and in order to regain my self-respect I swung to the 
opposite side of the fence. And yet, there has always been the 
necessity for thinking the thing through and seeking con- 
victions to which I felt I could subscribe without reservation. 

I have come to the definite conclusion in regard to religion. 

He said that he believed in God as the Creator and Supreme Being 
who was also Destiny, Providence and the Simple Principle of De- 
cency. Christ is the greatest moral teacher the world has ever known. 
His precepts are the standard guide to right living and to universal 
happiness. He is the son of God as all of us are the children of 
God, neither divine nor resurrected. 

"And now, Dad," Carlson ended his letter, "tell me what I am?" 

"You are as I am," his father replied. 

Word of Carlson's imminent departure came to Jose del Carmen 
Flores, the Governor of the Department of Managua, who wrote a 
letter to General Calvin B. Matthews, commander in chief of the 
Guardia Nacional. The only record of this letter is the copy made 
by General Matthews's interpreter. 


It has come to my knowledge [Senor Flores wrote] the 
news that Captain Evans F. Carlson will soon return to the 

Managua has received the foregoing news as a new mis- 
fortune, as Captain Carlson with a spirit which insomuch 
honors him as well as the Army of the United States, has 
known to sacrify his personal welfare in order to perform his 
duties with abnegation and disinterestness which makes him 
creditor of an everlasting gratitude on part of our people. 

Managua, through me, request that if Captain Carlson re- 
turns to Nicaragua, his services be spared in Managua where he 
leaves so many debts of gratitude. 

The earthquake which destroyed the city of Managua has 
rendered us an opportunity to know the persons of good will 
who have been a relief and a comfort in hours of misfortune, 
among these we shall always count Captain Carlson. 

Very respectfully, 

Jefe Politico of the De- 
partment of Managua 

Carlson received the copy of Flores's letter from General Matthews 
when he was already back in the States at a Naval Hospital. With 
it was a copy of a letter General Matthews wrote to the Secretary 
of the Navy, Charles Francis Adams, giving Carlson's record, a de- 
scription of his attack on the bandits at Portillo, and his work during 
the earthquake: 

The services of Lieutenant Carlson are a source of extreme 
gratification to me as Chief of the Guardia Nacional, and of 
honor to the Marine Corps. They assisted in no small degree 
in meeting one of the most difficult situations we have been 
called upon to face on one of those few great emergencies 
which arise in the course of a lifetime and which bring out 
the qualities of leadership among those who rise to meet the 
occasion. I earnestly recommend that he be awarded the Dis- 
tinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service 
to the Government in a duty of great responsibility. 


A few days later, Carlson was called into the office of the Com- 
mandant of the Boston Navy Yard and presented not with the Dis- 
tinguished Service Medal but with the Navy Cross, an award second 
only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. 12 


High-toned bull sessions 

Carlson returned to San Diego in January 1933 and by March 
he was at sea en route to China again to take over his old job as 
Intelligence Officer of the Fourth Regiment. 

Before Carlson landed in Shanghai on Saint Patrick's Day 1933, 
two very important things had happened to China. Japan had al- 
ready put her foot inside the Open Door in Manchuria, and the 
Chinese Red Army, organized in the southern provinces, had 
painfully fought off four extermination campaigns directed against 
them by Chiang Kai-shek. Both these events were moving slowly 
together like two rivers to catch up with Carlson at their junction. 

Shanghai did not satisfy him. He wanted more of China than 
its foreignized ports. He requested duty in Peiping 1S with the Lega- 
tion Guard, and was transferred there. 

Peiping, the Forbidden City, was a dream to Carlson. It was the 
China of the books, full of rich color and beauty, untouched by 
the mark of foreigners in its spirit and architecture. He had never 
seen so wondrous a city. The thousands of willows and great im- 
perial cypresses, the cool gardens, the tiles, the Tartar walls brought 
enchantment to him as they had to all others who had ever visited 
the city. 

12 He also received the Nicaraguan Presidential Medal of Merit and 
the Medal of Distinction. 
"Formerly Peking. 


It was an immensely crowded place with a universe of sounds: 
bells and the thousand cries of street vendors and beggars. Each 
sound was born before the other died. He felt as if he were living 
in the midst of a huge and strangely instrumented orchestra. And 
he liked it. 

He and his wife rented a charming Chinese house just inside the 
wall of the Imperial City. As Adjutant of the Post his work was 
not at all arduous and for the first months, experiencing something 
new for an old Puritan, he tasted luxury. He went in for polo, 
playing No. i on the team, enjoyed the easy protocol of garden par- 
ties, teas, receptions. He found that one could live in Peiping with 
blinded eyes and deafened ears though the rest of the world fell to 

As always he found it easy to make acquaintances and hard to 
make friends, and he was overjoyed when Ed Snow came up to teach 
at Yenching University with his new wife, Peggy. 

"I want you to meet Carlson," Ed Snow had told his bride. "He's 
something you don't see every day in the Marines." 

If Shanghai had been Carlson's school of Chinese politics, Peiping 
was his university of Chinese culture. He studied Chinese ceramics, 
art and architecture. 

He learned the differences in Ming blue, the reds and browns 
and blues of Ching, the green of Sung, the veins of the porcelain, 
the touch, the sound, the feel. 

This was high "culture," and Carlson enjoyed it. His heart, fear- 
ing illiteracy like sin, sang with knowledge. He began to enjoy 
"learning" for its own sake. And, oddly enough, at the same time 
he became proud of possessions for the first time in his life. Like 
any nouvcau riche, he showed off his home, the old house they had 
rented, with its moongates fringed in wistaria, the red salvia 
bordering the courtyard, the bright, red-lacquered door with brass 
knockers. For a while ease and luxury were not things to be ashamed 
of. He enjoyed his free, sinless New Englandless year. 

Week ends he and his wife went up to an old Buddhist Temple 
with the Snows and Helen Burton, who ran a curio shop at the 
Grand Hotel and who had rented The Temple of Flowering Fra- 


grance for $20 a year. He talked porcelains and dynasties and the 
beauties of Chinese chirography and the aesthetics of Chinese paint- 
ing, while eating Etelle's un-Chinese chocolate cake and Boston 
baked beans. 

Prominent transients were his guests. Gene Tunney, John Oliver 
La Gorce, editor of the National Geographic, and John P. Mar- 
quand, the creator of Mr. Moto, and later of The Late George 

"You could never think of Carlson as a great military leader," 
Marquand said of this time. "When I knew him in Peiping he im- 
pressed me deeply as being a scholar, a man interested in ideas and 

Never before had Carlson been so free in talking out his thoughts 
on the universe and nature and men. He was among intellectuals, 
men who talked a language different from what he had ever known 
before. There was Owen Lattimore, a Guggenheim fellow, Dr. 
Flewelling, Dean of the Philosophy Department, University of 
Southern California, Timperley, an erudite British journalist, Stephen 
Pyle, pastor of the Peiping Church, Lyman Hoover, a Yale Divinity 
School man, Lawrence Sickman, Curator of the Kansas City 
Museum and Dr. Arthur Coons of Occidental College. There were 
men of science from the Peiping Medical College and Yenching 
University and the Rockefeller Foundation. 

Among these men he could test his ideas at the Monday Club 
which met weekly at the Hotel Du Nord for dinner. There he 
entered into high-toned "bull sessions" which, in a compact form, 
were a belated college education. 

In the heat of great resolves and dedication, good food and heady 
beer, the Monday Club went so far as to draw up a prospectus of a 
universal creed, in which each pledged himself to practice "honesty, 
tolerance, justice, humanity and unselfishness." 

The rest of the world's problems seemed simpler after that. 

His only unhappiness in those days was the discovery of how really 
ill-informed he was. American literature, for example. He knew 
Emerson, of course, and Mark Twain, Walt Whitman and the 
New England poets. But he was unprepared to argue the fine points 


of literary cause and effect, the influences of region on art, of 
nationalism on poetry, of folk culture on drama. There was a virtual 
Tibet of knowledge which he had never explored. 

He wanted the latest in literary thought, and he wanted something 
that tied up literature with the world around it. He found all this 
in a book by V. F. Calverton that had been recently published. 
Using Calverton's The Liberation of American Literature, he 
taught a class of the Peiping Woman's Club, for after all no one 
learns quicker than a man who teaches. 

With this class went another; and out of the new one came a 
revelation which created in Carlson a further conviction about men 
and leadership, augmenting what he had already learned. 

When he first became Adjutant of the Legation Guard he was 
appalled to discover that as many as a hundred men a month were 
subject to disciplinary action. He knew that something was wrong 
in a detachment where morale was so low. He went through the 
possibilities: food, quarters, lack of entertainment, but in each case 
the men were well taken care of. He talked with the men but 
could get nothing from them. 

About this time he started his class in Chinese language, history 
and culture, the first ever held in the Peiping Legation Guard. 
Specialists in different branches of Chinese culture spoke. The 
history of Peiping itself was outlined. China's political story was 
told. Its language taught. 

The list of offenders fell from a hundred a month to ten! This 
was an important discovery for Carlson. He realized with terrific 
impact that when soldiers are given information about the situation 
in which they act and live they derive from it a sense of responsi- 
bility. ... He would never forget this lesson. 


"B for my work" 

The Marine Corps brought him back to the States in 1935, made 
him a Captain, an aide to Major General Charles Lyman, and 
second-in-command in President Roosevelt's Warm Springs de- 

This brought him close to his new idol, Franklin Roosevelt. 
Carlson liked the idea of Roosevelt's forthright acknowledgment 
that human needs were as important as a balanced budget. 

But China was in Carlson's head. It was all he talked about. He 
wanted to go back as soon as possible. But first he wanted to know 
more about international affairs. He wanted background. 

As General Lyman's aide at Quantico, his chance came. He applied 
for admission to Professor Charles Hill's class in International Law 
at George Washington University. He could commute the forty 
miles from Quantico every night. 

Professor Hill, a good fatherly man but a little tired of amateurs, 
told Carlson that he didn't have the academic requirements for this 
graduate course, and he couldn't accept him. 

"What books should I have studied, Professor?" 

Hill gave him a list of ten classics, from Grotius on up to Borchard. 
In the next two weeks, Carlson read the books, outlined them, pre- 
sented himself again to Hill and demanded a written examination. 

The professor, a little frightened by the Marine's vigor and de- 
termination, told him he could take the course without such a test. 

And now a world opened, Tibet was crossed. He understood the 
real meaning of such phrases as "Dollar Diplomacy" and "balance 
of power" for the first time. He understood now what he had been 
doing in China in 1927, in Nicaragua in 1931. Embarrassed, he 
wished he could rewrite some of his book reviews published in 
Powell's papet. 

"B FOR MY WORK" 171 

"I was shocked by what I learnt of our intervention in foreign 
nations," he said to the author. "I suppose I had taken too much for 
granted about our American idealism." He paused to think, took 
his glasses off, moved his hands in front of him in his characteristic 
way as if he were grappling with something physical. "But I still 
believe that even while we worked under Dollar Diplomacy we 
followed a course that was of benefit to others as well as to ourselves." 

The Roosevelts invited Evans and Etelle Carlson to lunch in 
February 1936. The Chief Usher met them at the door, and as they 
were taking off their coats Carlson saw a couple of Secret Service 
men he knew. He grinned. They grinned back. 

"I feel a little easier," he whispered to his wife. 

The major-domo showed them where they were to be seated on 
a diagram of the table, then led them to the Red Room, where in 
front of a warm fire stood a group consisting of Lieutenant Colonel 
Lemuel C. Shepard, who had been in command of the Warm Springs 
Detachment the previous year and who in 1945 would command 
the Marines on Okinawa, Mrs. Shepard, Francis Sayre, the As- 
sistant Secretary of State, and Bishop Atwood, an old friend of the 
Roosevelts. At one o'clock Mrs. Roosevelt came into the room es- 
corted by a beautiful pair of Irish setters, and shook hands with her 

"Shall we go into the dining room," she suggested after a while. 
"Franklin is already at the table." 

When they entered the family dining room, Carlson was seated 
second from Roosevelt's left. There was some lively talk about a 
speech that Al Smith had just made attacking the New Deal, and 
the President seemed unaffected by it. Then someone brought up the 
question of the unfriendly attitude of the newspapers toward the 

"I used to tell Theodore," Bishop Atwood remarked, "that the 
editors of the New Yor^ Evening Post were a bunch of liars." 

"T.R. had his own difficulties," the President replied, "but if you 
have to choose between support of the people and the support of 
the editors, well " He made a gesture and laughed heartily. 

In his letter home describing the event, Carlson seemed less im- 


pressed with being with people who were calling Franklin Roosevelt 
"Franklin," than he was by being at a table with a man like Bishop 
Atwood who could call his old hero "Theodore." 

"But," he wrote, "nothing, not even having dinner with F.D.R., 
has happened to me in many a day that has set me up as much as 
having received a B for my work at George Washington U. Not 
bad for a non-college graduate, eh?" 

He celebrated the B at the Army-Navy Club in Washington. He 
had proved to his own satisfaction that he could compete with men 
who had received formal schooling. His old sense of inferiority 
slipped away. He had three points to his credit as a graduate student 
in International Law. 

By the end of the year he had six points and a thesis on Japanese 
expansion in Eastern Asia, as well as an article called Legal Basis for 
the Use of Foreign Armed Forces in China, which was eventually 
published in the Naval Institute Proceedings. This was quite flatter- 
ing, for the Proceedings was edited by a board of senior Naval officers 
who insisted on a high literary standard as well as on originality 
and authenticity. 

The Roosevelt landslide in November of 1936 delighted him. He 
had been convinced that F.D.R. would win, though he thought the 
margin would be much smaller. 

I believe that Roosevelt will prove by virtue of his second 
administration [he wrote home on November 8th] to be one 
of the greatest of all our presidents. He has the heart and 
sympathetic understanding of Lincoln. He is well balanced and 
I believe will remain so. 

Roosevelt's victory meant much to Carlson. He had listened to all 
his speeches, heard him condemn the "economic royalists" and speak 
up for the "plain man." These words, like chords, set up resonances 
in Carlson. Since his return from China he had looked around his 
native land and had seen that there were things wrong with it and 
things that were being righted. He felt that we were turning a corner 
in our life at which point underprivileged people would demand and 
get a greater share of the national wealth. 

"B FOR MY WORK" 173 

"Ingenuity, industry and intelligence must be rewarded," he wrote 
his father, "but not at the expense of relegating the masses to the 
gutters." An equitable balance for all classes must be found. But 
how? He saw how American laboring men had joined together 
successfully in unions and had learnt to work with each other for 
their common goals. But even here there was disunion, not only 
among labor, but between segments of the American people. How 
could unity come about, equity, justice for all? 

He was no economist, no philosopher, no profound thinker. He 
had no recourse to ready-made theories. He wanted merely to see 
and live with a happy people. 

But how make them happy ? 

Could it be, he asked his father, that this could come about "if 
the principles of Christianity were practiced in the daily lives of all 
of us who embrace them"? 

Christianity has not failed, his father had preached once, because 
it has never been tried. Could it be tried, his son asked. Why has it 
not been tried? Is it being tried in the world now, today, by any 
large number of people living and working together, ordinary 
people, farmers, laborers, soldiers? 

His father didn't know. 

In the spring of 1937, he was informed that his requests to return 
to China duty were finally approved. He would leave for Shanghai 
in the summer to study the Chinese language in Peiping. 

About a week after he was told he was going to leave, he was 
invited to see President Roosevelt. 

"I understand you are going out to China again, Evans," the 
President said. "I want you to do something for me while you're 
there. I want you to drop me a line now and then direct to the 
White House. Let me know how you're doing. Tell me what's going 
on. I suspect there's going to be a great deal going on this summer 
in China. I'd like to hear what you have to say about it." 

Then Roosevelt leaned against his chair and stuck his cig- 
arette holder in the corner of his lips. "Shall we keep these letters a 
secret? Just between the two of us? Shall we?" 

"For as long as both of us live, Mr. President." 


Roosevelt smiled broadly. "I've got a lot to do before I die," he 

May went by, Roosevelt signed the Neutrality Act, Chamberlain 
succeeded Baldwin. . . . June, Soviet Marshal Tukhatchevsky and 
seven other generals were sentenced to be shot for treason, Franco's 
troops occupied Bilbao. . . . 

Christianity is failing, Carlson had written home. He yearned to 
find some place in the world where it lived. Any place even among 

He left Seattle in late July on the President McKinley. For China. 
His China. The old golden land. Fifteen years before when he 
joined the Marine Corps they had asked him his choice of duty. 
He had said China. 

Part Four 

Red poppy 

The day he landed a war began. 

The S.S. President McKinley moved at quarter-speed through the 
foul yellow water of the Yangtze off Shanghai. An August sun out 
of a cloudless sky absorbed the river water and made everything 
sticky. Japanese warships bounced arrogantly in the swells. Over- 
head, Japanese bombing planes cut the sky swiftly and in single file 
dove on the Chinese Civic Center of Greater Shanghai. 

From the deck of the McKinley Carlson saw smoke blooming up 
from the city where the Japanese bombs had dropped. He frowned, 
took his pipe out of his mouth and banged the bowl angrily against 
the rail. That morning he had read in the ship's bulletin that Spanish 
planes piloted by Germans had bombed Madrid. Now, halfway 
around the world, he was seeing it. Different planes, different city, 
but the same barbarism. 

The ship swung slowly in the river and entered the Whangpoo. 
Along the wharves Chinese coolies unloaded Norwegian and Ger- 
man freighters. Somewhere in the city beyond sirens sounded like 
children crying. 

More Japanese planes dove on the city. Great thuds sounded 
distantly like huge trees falling. 

Carlson stared at the city angrily. 

Ten years and six months had passed from the day when he had 
first seen Shanghai. How swiftly the years had gone. He felt a little 


sad. He was forty-one, old before he had even turned around. 
Where had the years vanished ? 

Below him now were the old Standard Oil Docks where in 1927 
he and the men of the Fourth Marines had landed, waiting their 
turn to move against the Chinese mobs, and to put down, once and 
for all, the goddamned Chinks, the "Reds" who were molesting 
American lives and property. He groaned inwardly. God in heaven, 
how ignorant he had been. If he had only known in 1927 what he 
knew now, how much Shanghai could have meant to him then. 

Would the day ever come when people could really see ? 

His reflections were broken into by the arrival of the tender to take 
the few disembarking passengers to the Customs Jetty eight miles 

On the tender he stood by himself, apart from the others. His 
eyes were turned searchingly to the near shore. China was waiting 
for him again, as it had waited ten and a half years before. When 
he had first seen it war lay on its land, and now war again. 

There are Chinese who have married, had children and grand- 
children without knowing a single year of peace, for since 1911 
China has been at war. 

Up to the present, of the thirty-five years of war, twenty-six have 
been spent in Chinese fighting Chinese, in civil war, revolution, 
and counter-revolution. Only for nine years, from 1936 to V-J Day 
in 1945, did the Chinese as a united nation fight a foreign enemy. 

No people have fought so hard, so long and so painfully to win 
sovereignty over their own lives. 

In 1927, when Carlson first came to China, one phase of the Long 
War had come to an end, and another had begun. The people's 
revolution led by the combined Kuomintang and Communist parties 
against their Manchu overlords had been won. 

But at the moment of victory the people were betrayed and divided. 
Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang began the fight to extirpate their 
comrades-in-arms, the Communists and the dedicated followers of 
Sun Yat-sen. Tens of thousands of the Left were killed, suppressed 
and exiled. The widow of Sun Yat-sen was forced to leave her 


native land. Counter-revolution, tyranny disguised as "nationalism" 
rode the backs of the Chinese people. Civil war began again. 

In 1931, Japan, taking advantage of China's disunity and the 
world's disinterest, created an "incident" in Manchuria, marched in 
and set up the puppet state of Manchukuo. The Communists, who 
had established a government of their own in the southeast, in the 
province of Kiangsi, declared war against Japan. But the Nationalists 
did nothing. In a world of appeasement Chiang Kai-shek did not 
want to fight alone. He did not trust his own people enough to 
organize them for a war against the invaders. 

Chiang Kai-shek's relations with Japan continued. 

But his own people acted without him. In 1932 the remnants of 
those Shanghai workers who in 1927 had helped Chiang Kai-shek 
take the city, and whom soon after he turned upon and purged 
mercilessly, called for a boycott against Japanese goods. Japan fought 
the boycott with a land, sea and air attack against the Chapei district 
of Shanghai. Again Chiang Kai-shek did nothing. Again his own 
people fought without him. The Nationalist Nineteenth Route 
Army, acting on its own, kept the Japanese from capturing Shanghai. 

But the civil war against the Reds continued. 

Thwarted at Shanghai, the Japanese waited a year and created 
another "incident" in Chinese Jehol. As before, only local patriots 
resisted. Chiang Kai-shek made a truce with Japan and gave away 
Jehol. The invader, arrogant with constant appeasement, hungered 
for even more of China. 

Another campaign against the Kiangsi Reds was started. 

In 1935 Japan moved into five northern provinces. She now pos- 
sessed about a fifth of China's territory and about a third of her 
industrial and natural resources. 

Chiang Kai-shek, however, had other battles to fight. Four cam- 
paigns against the Kiangsi Reds had failed. The fifth one, planned 
by German General von Seeckt, must not fail. Nationalist armies, 
outnumbering the Reds ten to one, drove the Reds out of Kiangsi, 
drove them across the impassable rivers and giant mountains of 
twelve provinces, through heat and cold and starvation, through the 
naked suffering of 6000 miles. The Reds under Chu Teh fought and 


retreated and fought again for about a year and by the end of 1935 
the gaunt and weary remnants of the Long March * finally found 
an insecure haven at Yenan, in the northwest province of Shensi, 
hemmed in on three sides by the Japanese with whom they were 
officially at war, and on the fourth side by the still advancing 
Nationalist troops of Chiang Kai-shek. 

But here they stopped; here they had decided that their Long 
March must end. For a year with weapons captured from their 
enemies or made in primitive workshops they fought both the 
Japanese and the Nationalists. 

Chiang Kai-shek had insisted that he would not turn against the 
Japanese until every Chinese communist was either killed or in 

In December 1936, he changed his mind. Why? 

The tale starts in the little city of Sian, about a hundred and 
seventy-five miles away from Yenan, the headquarters of the Red 
Army. There took place that month a fascinating drama which had 
everything deaths, kidnapping, high stakes, singularly complicated 
characters in conflict with each other, Hamlet-like indecisiveness, 
villains, heroes, heroines, great love. 

Consider this: Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek sends his great 
friend, Young Marshal Chang Hsueh-liang, to lead an army of his 
Tungpei troops against the Reds. Friend Young Marshal Chang 
finds that the Reds are genuinely dedicated to driving out the in- 
vading Japanese. He is impressed by them. But his loyalty is to 
Chiang Kai-shek. He dallies with his offensive against the Reds and 
tries to persuade Chiang Kai-shek to turn against the Jap. Chiang 
Kai-shek flies to Sian to scold his errant comrade. "Fight the Reds," 

1 For a magnificent description of the Long March and the life of the 
Chinese Red Armies, the reader must go to Edgar Snow's Red Star 
Over China published in The Modern Library. Also to Agnes Smedley's 
Battle Hymn of China, Alfred A. Knopf, 1943, to Twin Stars of China 
by Evans F. Carlson, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1940, to the books of Nym 
Wales, Anna Louise Strong, Harrison Forman, Owen Lattimore, James 
Bertram, Guenther Stein, Ilona Ralf Sues. To these people, all Ameri- 
cans owe an enormous debt. Their reports of China, through blockade 
and censorship, have brought to us the knowledge that our own spirit, 
our own Valley Forge and Revolution, live again on this globe. 


he orders. The Young Marshal refuses. Chiang Kai-shek grows black 
with anger. The Young Marshal pleads with him. Chiang Kai-shek 
is adamant. The Young Marshal, searching his soul for the right 
thing to do, finally moves with his brother officers to kidnap their 
stubborn leader. No, not to kidnap. That would be too scandalous. 
They will merely detain him at Sian in order to have more time in 
which to present their arguments for a united China. 

At 5 130 in the morning of December i2th the conspirators surround 
Chiang Kai-shek's house at Sian, and are fired on by his bodyguards 
who are soon killed. Chiang Kai-shek, taking advantage of the 
delay, jumps out of his bedroom window sans clothes and false 
teeth and tries to hide in the hills near-by. Finally, he is found by 
one of the Young Marshal's officers who apologizes for the indignity, 
and offers to take the Generalissimo to the Young Marshal. Chiang 
Kai-shek has no shoes on, and his feet hurt. The officer carries 
him piggyback to the house. The Young Marshal calls on Chiang 
Kai-shek who greets him angrily. "You have mutinied," the General- 
issimo says. "Finish your job and kill me." 

The Young Marshal refuses to kill his Commander in Chief. In- 
stead, he explains why China must be unified; why it is necessary 
for Chiang Kai-shek to stop warring against the Reds. But Chiang 
Kai-shek will not listen. "Kill me or permit me to return to Nan- 
king," the Generalissimo demands. 

Now some of the Young Marshal's men and officers, the crack 
Tungpei troops, have come to be much influenced by the Reds 
whom they had been sent to destroy. They have been convinced that 
Chiang Kai-shek stands athwart a united China and a war against 
the invader. They would like very much to take Chiang Kai-shek 
at his word and kill him. But the Young Marshal talks them 
out of it. 

Nanking hears about Chiang Kai-shek's kidnapping. Pro- Japanese, 
anti-Russian General Ho Ying-chin, Chiang Kai-shek's Minister of 
War, is afraid that Chiang Kai-shek might be persuaded to fight 
Japan. He orders bombing planes to Sian to wipe out the whole 
city, Chiang Kai-shek included. But Madame Chiang Kai-shek 
argues with General Ho, and succeeds in winning time enough to 


fly to Sian to the side of the man she loves. She will plead for his 
life; she will free him. She has great and deserved confidence in 

In Sian the Young Marshal is in the middle of a vise. He is find- 
ing it difficult, on one hand, to persuade Chiang Kai-shek to com- 
promise, and, on the other hand, he can barely keep his own officers 
and men from murdering Chiang Kai-shek. Madame Chiang Kai- 
shek arrives. She has a tearful reunion with her husband. They read 
the Bible together. 

And now into the Sian drama enters Chou En-lai, a leader of the 
Chinese Reds, the man for whose head Chiang Kai-shek had placed 
a reward of $100,000, and who was number one on his list to be 
purged that 1927 night in Shanghai. Has he come for revenge? Has 
he come to destroy the man who was responsible for the murder and 
torture of ten thousand of his comrades? The Generalissimo and 
Madame, the Young Marshal and his Tungpei troops wait for the 

Chou En-lai talks to Chiang Kai-shek. He addresses him as "Your 
Excellency" and "Generalissimo." He asks him to continue the 
country's leadership. He tells him that the Chinese Reds are willing 
to forego everything, anything, to unite with the Nationalists in 
order to fight Japan. He reiterates Young Marshal Chang's points, 
(i) stop civil war, (2) resist Japan, (3) give political freedom to the 

The radical Tungpei troops of the Young Marshal with the reck- 
less passion of newly won converts are furious with the Reds. "You, 
yourself," they shout at Chou En-lai, "told us that Chiang Kai-shek 
is a Judas. That he has betrayed our country and our people. Now 
that the time is come to get rid of him, you ask him to remain as 
Premier and ask us to let him fly back to Nanking. Are you be- 
traying us?" 

Chou En-lai answers them quietly with the stony wisdom of facing 
the truth. If they killed Chiang Kai-shek, he says, this would not 
end civil war, but create the conditions for even more. The Fascist 
section of the Kuomintang, people like General Ho, would invite 
the Japanese in. "When we called for a united front," Chou En-lai 


tells them, "we meant it. We didn't mean a Communist front or a 
Kuomintang front. But a united front between the two parties. 
Only Chiang Kai-shek can guarantee the Kuomintang." And then 
Chou En-lai quotes the words of his great comrade, Mao Tse-tung. 
"If our country is subjugated by the enemy we will lose everything. 
We cannot even discuss communism if we are robbed of a country in 
which to practice it." 

Only part of the Tungpei troops are satisfied. 

And in the Generalissimo's house at Sian, Chiang Kai-shek re- 
fuses to sign any agreement. But he cannot help but be impressed 
with the sincerity of the Reds. He catches the meaning of General 
Ho's punitive expedition against the "Sian rebels," which would be 
really against his own life. He understands, with the help of his wife 
and W. H. Donald, his Australian adviser, that his "friends" are 
not friends, and his "enemies" are not enemies. 

Young Marshal Chang keeps apologizing for detaining him. 
Chang has found the Generalissimo's private diary. In it he has read 
secret thoughts. He has read that Chiang Kai-shek really intends to 
fight the Japs just as soon as conditions permit him to do so and 
come out at the end with his power intact. 

Now the Young Marshal will detain his old friend no more. He 
will send him back to Nanking in his own plane, and, more than 
that, he will return with him to be punished for his extraordinary 
act of lese majeste. True, nothing has been agreed on in so many 
words, but an "understanding" has been reached. 

With the help of the Reds, the Young Marshal pacifies his mut- 
tering and rebellious troops who want to cut Chiang Kai-shek into 
little pieces, and the Generalissimo, his wife, and Mr. Donald fly 
back to Nanking. With them, of course, "blushing with shame," is 
the apologetic Young Marshal. 

In Nanking Chiang Kai-shek announces his own incompetence to 
the people and resigns as Premier. His resignation is not accepted. 
He resigns twice more. Twice more he is refused. But, as he takes 
office each time, new decrees come from his pen. 

He withdraws his troops from Shensi province where the Reds 
are. He dissolves his anti-communist headquarters in Sian. He dis- 


misses some influential pro-Japanese cabinet ministers. He supports 
a new slogan, "Recovery of our lost territories." He sends a quiet 
directive to the press that the epithets "Red-bandit" and "Com- 
munist-bandit" are no longer to be used. Finally, in a speech in 
February, he asks the Chinese Reds to "surrender" but the terms 
he offers are practically the same which they proposed at Sian. 

As for the Young Marshal Chang, he is sentenced to ten years' 
imprisonment and pardoned the next day. 

Edgar Snow, in describing the Sian "incident" in his book Red 
Star Over China, concludes his summary in these words: 

Now, all this must seem to be an utterly incomprehensible 
denouement to the innocent Occidental observer unskilled in 
Chinese politics, and he is likely to make serious errors of 
judgment in analyzing its significance. Certainly it could hap- 
pen nowhere else in the world but China. After a decade of 
the fiercest kind of civil war, Red and White suddenly burst 
into "Auld Lang Syne." What was the meaning of it? Had the 
Reds turned White, and the Whites turned Red ? Neither one. 
But surely someone must have won, and someone lost? Yes, 
China had won, Japan had lost. For the last decision in this 
profoundly complicated two-way struggle had been postponed 
once more by the intervention of a third ingredient Japanese 
imperialism. 2 

The "third ingredient" struck again on July 7 with an "incident" 
at Lukouchiao, the old Marco Polo Bridge in Peiping, and in 
Shanghai on the 24th with another "incident" which concerned an 
errant Japanese marine in a Chinese brothel. In both cases Chiang 
Kai-shek, having been Sianized, encouraged his troops to resist, 
although he did not declare official war against Nippon until four 
years later, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

# # # 

2 In addition to Snow's book, the Sian story is told in great detail 
in James Bertram's First Act in China and Nym Wales's Inside Red 
China, Doubleday, Doran, 1939. Chiang Kai-shek told his own story in 
Sian, A Coup DEtat, Shanghai, 1937. 


Carlson, of course, knew these last ten years of China's history. 
He had come to understand the betrayal at Shanghai in 1927. He 
had scanned with anxiety the Japanese invasion of Jehol in 1933 
when he was studying Chinese porcelains in Peiping. He under- 
stood more then. By 1937 he was heart and soul with the Chinese 
in their undeclared war against Japan, but he did not yet compre- 
hend the full meaning of the "last decision" between the Reds and 
the Whites. Sian, about which he had read, was to him a character- 
istically complicated Chinese political set-to which had brought a 
kind of unity to the nation. But he did not yet know on which side 
lay right and justice. He was soon to find out. 

He felt in his element as he left the Customs Jetty. "You're smack 
in the middle of a war," Morris Harris, the Shanghai Associated 
Press man told him. 

Admiral Harry Yarnell, the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic 
Fleet, to whom he reported, was a man who saw with impatient 
eyes the encroachment of Japan upon China. He was no eater of 
flame, this old Navy man; he did not want to create incidents and 
make taut the diplomatic strings which held his nation and Japan 
in polite co-operation. But he hated injustice and he hated Japanese 
militarism and he wished he could use the guns of his flagship, the 
U.S.S. Augusta, against the Japanese destroyers who were standing 
off near him and shelling the defenseless city. But if neutrality was 
his country's policy, he would pursue it conscientiously, though it 
stuck in his craw. 

"You're supposed to go up to Peiping and study," he told Carlson 
when he read his orders. "But there's a war going on here." 

"I don't want to waste my time," Carlson said eagerly. He had 
hoped for something like this from Yarnell. 

"Suppose I modified your orders to stand by here as a Naval 
Intelligence observer until things quiet down. What about it? We 
need all the trained observers we can find. We've got to find out how 
the Chinese fight, and what's more important, how the Japs fight." 

"It's exactly what I want to do," Carlson said. 


It was an extraordinary war Carlson was to observe. For a while 
it was a war within a city; battles that flamed within city blocks and 
parks and across streets and squares, from alleyways and hotel tops, 
department stores, market places and Chinese temples. It was the 
kind of a war you could watch from the window of your hotel room. 
Carlson and his fellow observers, Commander Overesch, of Naval 
Intelligence, his immediate superior, Major Eddie Hagen of the 
Marines, Jim Mills and Morris Harris of the A.P., John B. Powell, 
Carlson's old friend from the 1927 days and still the valiant editor 
of the anti-Japanese China Weekly Review, and Pembroke Stephens 
of the London Daily Telegraph would watch the battle for the city 
from roof tops overlooking the Soochow Creek or from the buildings 
on the perimeter of the International Settlement. They used to rent 
window space from landlords as if they were seats on the fifty yard 
line at the Yale Bowl. 

Once Carlson watched with bitterness and frustration Japanese 
tanks and artillery obliterating at a range of sixty yards two thou- 
sand poorly armed Chinese. It was hard to watch. He wanted to 
run over to the Chinese, pick up one of their fallen rifles, fire back. 
But he was an observer, a neutral. . . . 

Did these Chinese, these empty-handed coolies, know what they 
were dying for, he wondered. 

He asked the question of a perspiring coolie, resting for a mo- 
ment in the hot, scarred street. Wearily he had put down his 
shoulder pole with its double-ended load of cooked rice for the fight- 
ing troops. 

"What are you fighting for?" Carlson asked. "What are your 
countrymen dying for?" 

The broad head and the quiet eyes turned to Carlson slowly. 
Trickles of sweat dropped from the bony creeks. "National salva- 
tion," the coolie said. 

"But what is national salvation?" 

The coolie thought a moment and he frowned; then the words 
came from his dry lips, words perhaps that he had not heard, nor 
even thought of before. "The enemy wants to take our homes," he 
said slowly. "If we work together we can defeat him." 


Carlson didn't catch all the Chinese words the coolie used, and he 
repeated aloud a phrase. 

"Gung Ho" he said. It was the first time Carlson had heard those 
words, "Work together." 8 

The coolie smiled and nodded. 

An antiaircraft shell landed in the middle of an intersection near 
by. The coolie left and Carlson ran up. About twenty Chinese lay 
silent. He ran from one to the other to see who was dead. Ten were 
beyond human help. Then a police ambulance drove up. Another 
shell came over and sliced in half a house at the corner. 

He moved down the street to a bridge that crossed Soochow Creek. 
On the other side, at the North Station, where ten years ago he 
had seen White Russians in an armored train hold off a battalion of 
Kuomintang troops, Kuomintang troops were now holding off a 
battalion of Japanese. Machine guns, grenades, artillery were pound- 
ing and sputtering away. As he stood on the bridge Chinese planes 
came over, dropped bombs; from the Whangpoo Jap ships slammed 
at them with heavy guns. He felt a gripping exhilaration. 

It was a grand scene. [He wrote home that night from the 
American Club.] It had drama and excitement and imminent 
death. To me such a scene is the epitome of life. It brings home 
the futility of life, the closeness of death, the utter folly of 
worrying about petty details. Those who cringe from death 
deserve to die, for they lack the faith and the breadth of vision 
to be useful in life. 

The Chinese are magnificent in their fortitude. They have 
great sources of spiritual strength. I noticed one thing about 
the Chinese in the course of that incident I never remarked 
before. The wounded make no outcry. There was no moan- 
ing such as Westerners would have made. A little girl about 

8 Later Carlson was to learn that Gung Ho was not correct Chinese 
for "work together." Other words came between the Gung and the Ho. 
But in 1939 when the Chinese Industrial Co-operatives took the phrase 
for its slogan, China accepted it as a contribution to its vocabulary. Ac- 
cording to Dr. James F. Bender of the National Institute of Human 
Relations Gung Ho, as a result of its use in the Raiders, has become part 
of the American language. The New YorJ^ Times, Dec. 2, 1945. 


twelve had her knee split wide open in a frightful wound. 
She made no sound as a temporary dressing was put on and 
as she was moved to the ambulance. You can't down a people 
who are so indifferent to pain and death. 

The logic was clear to him. "Spiritual strength . . . indifference 
to pain and death." Others might say that perhaps this Chinese 
characteristic was derived from a life so hard and stringent that 
death and pain came as something long expected and familiar. Per- 
haps pride and fortitude gave them strength. Perhaps the ac- 
knowledgment of an inevitability of their fate, where if it is willed 
that a man work and marry and breed children and take care of his 
own parents and starve and freeze and never have enough, it is 
also willed that he should not cry out with pain. Perhaps all of these 
theories and more; but to Carlson, it was spiritual strength and 
nothing else. 

Once he and Ed Snow and Colin McDonald of the London 
Times climbed a seventy-foot-high water tower the highest place 
in the French concession to see a battle. They were on the plat- 
form below the water tank around which circled another platform. 
Below them were about eight hundred Chinese soldiers in the open 
with their backs against a wall of the French concession. Japanese 
infantrymen, using houses for cover were massacring the Chinese. 
Finally the Chinese wheeled about and scrambled up the wall, 
bullets snatching many of them back. Those that escaped the grasp- 
ing bullets were helped by the French troops on the other side and 
were interned. 

Suddenly a Jap machine gun started spraying the water tower. 
Carlson and his friends ducked for safety behind a concrete wall 
that projected off to one side. 

Carlson suddenly looked up at the platform above. At that 
moment Ed Snow noticed a blotch of red at his feet. "Anybody 
hurt?" he asked. "Or is that paint?" 

Nobody was hurt, and they went back to watching the remnants 
of the surrounded Chinese those who could not reach the wall 
in time fling themselves against the Jap bayonets. 


"I noticed Carlson was missing," wrote Edgar Snow. "Looking 
around I saw him climbing up the water tower." 4 

Colin McDonald, thinking that the Japs could shoot Carlson 
down easily as he climbed the tower, watched breathlessly. "Only 
an absolutely fearless man would take the risk," McDonald said 

Seven men, head in hands, lay prostrate on the platform when 
Carlson reached it. He thought they were dead. He spoke, and 
one man slowly raised his head. 

"Are the Japanese here?" he whispered. 

Carlson reassured him. Five others rose from the floor. One man 
lay in his own blood, dead. 

"Who is he?" Carlson asked. 

"I don't know," one man said with a French accent. 

"What's your name?" Carlson asked. 

The man took out his wallet with trembling hands and gave 
Carlson a visiting card. "I'm Dr. Richer," he said. 

It was hardly the place to be exchanging calling cards, Carlson 
thought, but this regard for convention could not be ignored, and 
he handed Richer one of his own. Then another man turned over 
the body and looked at the face. "It's Pembroke Stephens," he said. 
"Of the London Daily Telegraph" 

By this time Snow and McDonald were upon the platform. Carl- 
son explained why he had left them. "I saw a foot hanging down," 
he said. "I thought I ought to investigate." 

Someone picked Stephens up. Carlson noticed a red poppy in 
his lapel. He must have bought it at the American Club. It was 
November eleventh, Armistice Day. 

4 The Battle for Asia, Random House, 1941. 


A patch of America on a dead city 

Down into Shanghai, during September, October and November, 
came clandestine reports that the Red Army, now known, after 
Sian, as the Eighth Route Army, was fighting the Jap rather suc- 
cessfully, more ably than the Nationalists at Shanghai, and with a 
new kind of strategy with which, in its first battle against the Japs 
at Pinhsing Pass in September, it had somehow neutralized the Jap- 
anese superiority in fire power and mechanized equipment, and had 
defeated badly the crack 5th Division under the command of Gen- 
eral Itagaki, later Minister of War in Prince Konoye's cabinet. 

Ed Snow had a lot to say about the Chinese Reds. He had spent 
the summer and fall of 1936 with them at Pao An in Shensi 
province. Following his visit, he had written a book which he was 
calling Red Star Over China. He finished it in Peiping in July 1936 
and brought a copy of the manuscript with him to Shanghai. Carl- 
son read it. 

Carlson had deep ties of friendship with Snow. He admired his 
honesty and courage. But when he read his manuscript, he came 
away almost disbelieving. 

"My God, Ed," he said. "Are there really such men as Chu Teh, 
Mao Tse-tung, Chou En-lai, or have you made them up?" 

"I haven't made them up," Snow said. "They are there for any- 
body to see and talk to and live with." He paused slyly. "Even an 
American Naval Intelligence officer. One might say, especially." 
Snow became angry. "There hasn't been one foreign military in 

"But what kind of men are they?" Carlson persisted. 

A faraway look came into Snow's eyes. He leaned his short, 


muscular body forward in the chair. "They're different, Evans," he 
said slowly. "They're humble, earnest men, scrupulously honest in 
word and action." 

"In action, too?" Carlson demanded. That was the important 

Snow nodded. "Take the Chinese habit of trying to 'save face* 
for example. They fight it by inviting criticism and by severely 
criticizing themselves. Just wait till you meet General Chu Teh!" 

"Ed, you sound like a Salvation Army preacher." 

Snow shrugged. 

"You sound like a fellow selling shares in Utopia." 

"See for yourself, Evans." 

"I'm a hard-boiled Marine, Ed. Generals don't go around inviting 
criticism and criticizing themselves." 

"Chu Teh does," Snow said quietly. 

"If I didn't believe you had good sense, Ed, I'd swear you were 
sending me off on a goose chase." 

Snow lifted his eyes. "Then you're going?" 

Carlson laughed. "If I can talk Commander Overesch and Admiral 
Yarnell into sending me, I'm going." 

"Good," Snow said, satisfied. 

"As much as I'd like to see those 'god-like* men of yours, Ed, if I 
go it's because I think it's important to learn how they're fighting 
the Japs up there in the Red Northwest. It'll come in handy some 

"I'll write you a letter to Mao Tse-tung," Snow said. "He's the 
chairman of the Yenan government." 

Commander Overesch had a stringent and inflexible sense of 
military duty. To him it was defined as something set down in mili- 
tary orders. It was not open to interpretation. It could not be ex- 
panded beyond the immediate mission. Carlson had been ordered 
to observe the activities of the Chinese Armies. He had not been 
limited to observation only in the Shanghai area. Therefore, it was 
quite within his duty to go elsewhere, even to the Red Northwest. 
Admiral Yarnell concurred. 


"But you have to get Chiang Kai-shek's approval to travel to 
Sian," Carlson was told. 

Carlson scoured Shanghai stores for equipment. He figured he'd 
be with the Armies during the winter, and he bought a sheepskin 
lined coat, a heavy sleeping bag, and, of course, as strong a pair 
of hiking shoes as he could find. His pack included a small tea 
kettle to boil his water in, chopsticks, an enamel cup and a wash 
basin. He took along a volume of Emerson's Selected Essays, and 
two booklets of the British Three-Penny Library, one on geography 
and one on law, and the September 1937 issue of the Reader's 
Digest. His health was good; he hadn't had a malaria attack in years. 
He felt himself ready for anything. 

All Shanghai was moving north out of the grasp of the advancing 
Japanese. The Yangtze which carried boat-borne traffic up to Nan- 
king was filled with refugees on barges, launches pulling strings of 
boats, small steamers, junks, canoes, houseboats. For Carlson and 
the few other Occidentals going north, it was hand-to-mouth travel- 
ing. In the fight for food and sleeping accommodations men made 
quick alliances in the swift comradeship of flight. Such an alliance 
was formed between Carlson, an American airplane salesman, a 
Mohammedan father and son, and two White Russian brothers. 
By the time they reached Nanking, five days after leaving Shang- 
hai, the little Internationale had covered the 200 miles by steamer, 
barge, put-put launch, rickshaw, and hiking. In the hundred and 
twenty hours' time, Carlson had about ten hours sleep. But he 
enjoyed it. He liked the Chinese crowds, the singing actors who 
traveled the boats for a living, the Chinese soldiers who sat for 
hours with him on top of a filled coal car that was supposed to take 
them the rest of the way to Nanking but didn't leave the station at 
all. His liking for them grew boundlessly, their singing, the jokes, 
the good-natured tricks, the hardships taken in stride, the sharing 
of tea and scraps of food. In those five days he had picked up from 
the Chinese some of their slang, much of their dirt, and more of 
their spirit. 


Nanking was a city of the dead and dying in November 1937. 
The Japanese were too close for the National Government to con- 
tinue functioning there, and its bureaus and civil servants were on 
their way to Hankow, four hundred miles to the west, and to Chung- 
king, even further away. 

Nanking was empty streets, fear, refugees, barbed wire blockades 
the stigmata of a city in war. Chiang Kai-shek and his wife were 
still in Nanking, as well as W. H. Donald, the Generalissimo's 
Australian advisor, but they were moving out soon. 

Carlson went to see Donald. Through him, perhaps, Chiang 
Kai-shek could be persuaded to permit Carlson to go into the in- 

Donald lived up on the lower slope of Purple Mountain near 
Sun Yat-sen's mausoleum. As Carlson drove along the empty high- 
way he felt again the speed of passing time. He had marched up 
that highway eight years before behind Sun Yat-sen's cortege. He 
had been Admiral Bristol's guest at the reinterment of China's 
greatest leader. Then the highway had been crowded with march- 
ing people, full of hope for the future. And now, he asked himself 
sadly, where had all those tens of thousands of human beings 
vanished ? Where had their hope gone ? Along what newly crowded 
roads gray with fear were they now marching, fathers and grand- 
fathers and sons, grandmothers and mothers and their children, 
with the packets of pathetic property on their backs ? And some were 
dead, he knew; and some were fleeing this city now; and some were 
perhaps up in the Northwest; and some, sucked of all hope, were 
staying in Nanking until the Japs came, believing it could not be 
worse under the conqueror. 

W. H. Donald is always described in books and articles as a man 
of mystery, a legend. The one thing clear is that he was a man of 
enormous influence in Nationalist China. 

John Gunther says that Donald was a "most extraordinary human 
being," who had done everything in his time in China from combing 
out the pigtails of the Soong sisters when they were children to 
writing some of Sun Yat-sen's proclamations. He was a man, Gun- 


ther relates, who knew more Chinese state secrets than any foreigner 
who ever lived in China. 

When Carlson was introduced to Donald, the integrity and 
kindliness of Donald's expression characteristics which Carlson 
always sought for in meeting strangers made him favor the man. 

Carlson presented his request for a pass to go into the interior. 
He told Donald forthrightly that he hoped to be able to get to the 
Red Armies. 

"Do you think you have something to learn from them?" Donald 

"I won't know until I see them," Carlson replied. 

"You know," Donald said thoughtfully, "that travel in the in- 
terior is risky and difficult at this time." 

"I know." 

"The Nationalist Government can't assume responsibility for 
your safety." 

"I don't want it to," Carlson said. He was glad this came up. He 
wanted no strings other than those that bound him with his In- 
telligence mission. "I'm willing to take care of myself and give the 
government a paper releasing it from any responsibility." 

Donald ran his fingers through his graying hair, and grinned 
broadly. "I'll talk to the boss," he said. "I'll let you know." 

"Mr. Donald," Carlson said, "can I hope that you'll present my 
request to the Generalissimo with, shall I say, sympathy?" 

Donald bellowed with a laugh. "Hell, Carlson," he said. "If I had 
a brick for every time the boss turned down one of my sympa- 
thetically offered requests, I'd have enough to build a new Chinese 
Wall from Peiping to Tibet." 

While waiting for the word on the pass, Carlson opened him- 
self up to the talk, opinions, theories and gossip of the men in Nan- 
king who knew more than he did. There were quite a few China 
hands left: the consular attaches, Jimmie McHugh, Frank Roberts, 
George Atcheson and Hall Paxton. There was Colonel Claire 
Chennault, who had resigned from the American Air Force to help 
China's. The newspaper crowd, men whom he respected, helped him 


considerably; Tillman Durdin of the "New Yorl( Times, Weldon 
James of the United Press, Yates McDaniel of the Associated Press, 
and Colin McDonald of the London Times who had just come up 
from Shanghai with stories of the disintegration of its defense. 

They were all together at meals and at night, talking, swapping 
anecdotes, singing familiar songs, getting homesick, interweaving 
one with the other a patch of America on the dead city. Months 
later many of them would be together at Hankow in what they 
would call the Last Ditchers' Club, hanging on to the doomed city, 
waiting like tired doctors for its death. Now, in Nanking, they 
were "interning" for it, so to speak. By duty or job or from the 
sheer perverseness of human curiosity, they wanted to see how long 
they could remain in the city before the Japs moved in. They were 
always Last Ditchers, in those days, and out of them ran the black 
thread of news of China's defeats to our own crossroads. They were, 
within the limits of their tasks, Jeremiahs calling out doom to their 
native land eight thousand miles away. 

Carlson learned a great deal from all these men, and from 
Chinese like J. L. Huang, and from Americans like George Fitch, 
head of the Y.M.C.A. Both Huang and Fitch were the directors 
of the Chinese Officers' Moral Endeavor Association (a name which, 
almost by itself, was enough to win Carlson's interest). This as- 
sociation, along with Chiang Kai-shek's New Life Movement, was 
admittedly an attempt to create for the Nationalist armies the reputa- 
tion for incorruptibility which the Communist armies had won. 
Both Fitch and Huang made out an excellent case for the high 
morale of the Nationalists, and Carlson was convinced for a time. 
Later, however, he was forced to reconsider when he visited the little 
Yangtze city of Kukiang. There he saw a large group of Chinese 
men in chains, with armed guards in front and to the rear of them, 
being marched toward a barracks. He asked the officer in charge 
who these men were, criminals or traitors. 

"Recruits," was the answer. 

He was shocked to discover that many Nationalist soldiers had to 
be impressed into service, and that obviously nothing or little was 
being done to explain to the Chinese the reasons for the war. Noth- 


ing was told them about how their lives could and would be im- 
proved with the defeat of Japan. In short, if the war was being fought 
for a democratic China, the mass of Chinese didn't know it, didn't 
see it, and didn't experience the practice or even the promise of 
democracy. 6 

On November 26 Donald telephoned Carlson saying that the 
Generalissimo had approved his trip and a pass would be sent over 
to the Embassy. By seven o'clock that night Carlson was aboard 
the crowded TucJ^ Wo en route to Sian, via Hankow. 

In Hankow, he stayed long enough to pay his respects to Am- 
bassador Nelson T. Johnson who gave him some fatherly advice on 
how to take care of himself; to the quiet and gracious Paul Josselyn, 
the Consul General; to thoughtful Admiral Marquadt, Commander 
of the Yangtze patrol, who told him to go down into the sick bay of 
the Luzon, his flagship, and help himself to as much medical sup- 
plies as he thought he might need; and finally to Tung Pi-wu, the 
Eighth Route Army representative in Hankow, later to be one of 
China's delegates to the United Nations Conference at San Fran- 
cisco. Tung Pi-wu looked like a conventional mandarin with thin 
drooping mustachios and heavy-lidded eyes. He was cordial, if some- 
what uncommunicative, and informed Carlson that when he got 
to Sian he should look up a comrade, Lin Tso-han, who would ar- 
range transportation up to the Yenan headquarters of the Eighth 
Route Army. 

"Lin Tso-han is one of our oldest comrades," Tung Pi-wu said. 
And then he added with a broad smile, "The Party always sends 
him into danger spots whenever it is uncertain whether our dele- 
gate will come back alive. If we lose an old man, it's not as bad 
as losing a youngster." He winked at Carlson. "That's why I'm 
here at Hankow. I'm an old one too." 

Before leaving Hankow, which Carlson found too European 
for his taste, he borrowed one of the Embassy typewriters and 

6 Lin Yutang describes the abuses of Chiang Kai-shek's methods of 
conscription in The Vigil of a 'Nation, John Day, 1945. Mr. Lin Yutang 
is a defender of the Generalissimo against the Chinese Reds. 


brought his diary up to date. He promised himself that once he left 
Hankow he would make entries every day before going to sleep, 
no matter how late. He was determined to keep a full record of 
his trip. 


Among the heathen 

Excerpts from Carlson's diary: 

3 December 
Our train arrived in Sian at n P.M. A representative of the 

Guest House was at the train and took charge of me. A mili- 
tary officer took my name and looked at my passport. A 
customs inspection was made to determine whether or not 
there was contraband arms in my luggage. 

The Guest House was more than I anticipated. A modern 
building with well-appointed rooms and private baths. It 
was good to boil out in a bath and roll up in a bed for a good 
night's sleep. 

4 December 
I arose late this morning. I spent an hour reading in bed 

before arising. James Bertram's book First Act in China about 
the Sian kidnapping of Chiang Kai-shek is extremely interest- 
ing, especially now that I am on the ground where the main 
scenes were enacted. 

I had no difficulty finding the headquarters of Mr. Lin 
Tso-han. He was not there, but a Mr. Wu. He will wire ahead 
to Mao Tse-tung at Yenan about permission for me. 

5 December 
I learned much to my surprise that today is Sunday. At 

Eighth Route Army Headquarters, I met a Mr. Li Po-chou 


who speaks English very well. He volunteered to go to Yenan 
with me as my interpreter providing Mao Tse-tung approves 
my entrance. 

Spent the rest of the day in bed. Malaria is back on me. I 
don't feel natural, and I must get myself in shape. 

6 December 

I sent my card over today to General Chiang Ting-wen, com- 
mander of the area, and a Nationalist, of course ... I must 
get some quinine . . . 

7 December 
Chairman Mao Tse-tung sent a radio here today granting 

permission to travel to the Shansi front. An officer is on the 
way to meet me here. That's grand news. 

Tonight I dined with the Swensons, she from Connecticut, 
he from New Jersey, both missionaries in China for the last 
25 years. Wonderful people, and the food was old home and 

8 December 
Almost every wounded man I see, and there are about 

10,000 of them in Sian, has one or both legs amputated. 
Dr. Clow of the British Missionary Hospital tells me that this 
is because local hospitals are not equipped with the men and 
appliances to attempt to heal serious leg wounds, so amputa- 
tion is prescribed. 

The entry of December 10 was not typed but written. Surrounded 
by a bodyguard of eight men, each armed with a Thompson sub- 
machine gun, Carlson wrote it in a rocking, smelly, crowded third- 
class coach bound for T'ungkwan. 

It had been quite a day. 

At 10:45 that morning a call came from the Eighth Route Army 
Headquarters to hurry over there. As he approached the building 
in a rickshaw, an orderly ran out and told Carlson to continue down 
to the railroad station where an officer waited for him. The train 
for the front would be leaving in half an hour. 

"I'm not going to the station," Carlson said to the orderly. "All 
my equipment is still in the Guest House." 

"That doesn't matter," the orderly said hurriedly. 


"I'm not going." 

"You'll get new equipment. 1 ' 

Carlson shook his head stubbornly. He wasn't going to take the 
chance on spending a sub-zero winter in Shansi without his sleep- 
ing bag and change of clothing. He ordered his rickshaw to take 
him back to the Guest House. 

As he finished packing, a young officer with an Eighth Route 
Army sleeve badge, entered the room. He was smiling. 

"I was waiting for you at the station, Ts'an Tsan," the officer 
said, giving Carlson the official title of "attache." 

"I'm sorry," Carlson said. 

"We try to be prompt in executing orders," the officer said. "In 
old China, it would have taken a week to leave," he added proudly. 

"And in new China you don't give a man a chance to take his 
clothes with him," Carlson retorted with a laugh. 

The young officer remained silent a moment, then joined Carlson's 
laugh. "You know, Ts'an Tsan, the Eighth Route Army would 
not permit you to go naked." 

He traveled up the gorge-rimmed Yellow River, into the Red 
Partisan territory in Shansi, and was led on horse to the secret 
headquarters of the Eighth Route Army near Hungtung. 

Just before evening the little patrol of Carlson, his bodyguard, 
and a guide, entered an innocuous-looking village and followed a 
sheaf of telephone wires to a compound. The patrol stopped. Carl- 
son dismounted, tied his horse to a post, and looked around. The 
sun was all but gone, but the afterlight illumined the scaling white 
compound walls and the dark-green single shrub that grew behind 
it and over its edge. He turned around to look off from whence he 
came, and he saw coming toward him a stocky man of medium 
height wearing the plain horizon-blue uniform of a Chinese private 
soldier. His face was broad and bronzed, beaten by the weather like 
a sea captain's, with sun wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. The 
man's bronzed face was smiling, and in the semidarkness his white 
teeth shone. He came toward Carlson with his hand stretched out 
in welcome. 

Excerpt from Carlson's diary : 


75 December 

As he came toward me, I recognized the features of Chu Teh, 
the famous commander of the Eighth Route Army. Immedi- 
ately and intuitively I felt that I had found a warm and a 
generous friend, and a man who was a true leader of men. 

He led me into his living quarters, a simply furnished room 
with a sleeping k'ang in an alcove. The walls were covered 
with maps of the Shansi-Hopei district with the Eighth 
Route Army and Japanese positions marked out plainly. We 
talked in Chinese for a few minutes, he being exceedingly 
tolerant of my inadequate vocabulary. After a while, an in- 
terpreter came in, and it turned out to be my friend, Li Po, 
who had volunteered to interpret for me in Sian but who had 
to leave before Mao Tse-tung had sent permission. 

From Edgar Snow Carlson had heard the life of Chu Teh whose 
name, given to him by his unsuspecting parents fifty years before, 
oddly enough means "Red Virtue." It is pronounced "Ju Deh" in 
English. Chu Teh, as Snow pointed out, was unique because 
for forty years of his life he was the perfect example of Chinese 
corruption. The son of wealth, he rose to power as an able and 
respectable General under Sun Yat-sen, became an opium addict, 
plundered his province's treasury, collected a harem, and seemed 
to approve a dog-eat-dog life where he was top dog. "He had, in 
fact, only one really bad habit," Snow said wryly. "He liked to read 

Books, the influence of several Chinese students who had re- 
turned from study abroad and a native idealism brought to him a 
"sense of shame" and a passionate desire to overcome his own 
ignorance. He pensioned off his harem and fought ceaselessly and 
with a steel will to conquer his craving for opium. He traveled to 
Germany where he first found Marxist and Leninist books, and 
joined the Chinese Communist Party Branch in Berlin. After a few 
years in Berlin, Paris and Moscow of humble, hard, conscientious 
study, work that required the kind of demoniac strength with which 
he had downed his hunger for narcotics, he returned to Shanghai 
and turned over his fortune to the Communists. After the betrayal 


of 1927 and the Kuomintang-Communist battles of 1931 to 1933, 
he and Mao Tse-tung led the Long March to the Northwest. 

Carlson had heard all this about Chu Teh, but the one element in 
Chu Teh's history which made Carlson open his heart to the man 
"immediately and intuitively" was the fact of his change of life at 
forty. This had meaning to Carlson. He saw in Chu Teh the clear 
image of what in his own life was yet faint and blurred. 

Before these two men were to part, the Yankee Carlson would 
come to love the Chinese as he loved no other man except his father. 
His whole life would be a renewal after Chu Teh. 

Few men are won by principles alone, but rather by other men 
who preach and live them. We are not followers of the word as 
much as we are of the deed which emerges from it. It was the 
example of Christ, not merely His sermons, the living humanness 
of Lincoln, not only his proclamations, which conquered their 

"Just as our courage is so often a reflex of another's courage," 
wrote William James in his essay on free will, "so our faith is apt 
to be, as Max Miiller somewhere says, a faith in someone else's faith. 
We draw new life from the heroic example. The prophet has drunk 
more deeply than anyone of the cup of bitterness, but his coun- 
tenance is so unshaken and he speaks such mighty words of cheer 
that his will becomes our will, and our life is kindled at his own." 

This is what Carlson came to feel. 

Yet, as he and Chu Teh talked in the little room at headquarters, 
Carlson stood off within himself, not quite aloof, but with the native 
skepticism of a man who fears evil so deeply that he must hesitate 
before grasping what he thinks is good lest his own desires mislead 

"You are the first foreign military officer to visit our army, Ts'an 
Tsan," Chu Teh said. "We're glad to have you here, but just what 
would you like to see ?" 

Carlson replied that he wanted to go into battle with the troops, 
to live and march with them, to study their partisan tactics. He said 
he had learned a little about guerrilla war in Nicaragua. He wanted 
to learn more. 



When Carlson finished Chu Teh waited. 

Li Po, the interpreter, turned to Carlson to inquire if there was 
anything further he wanted to say. 

"Yes," Carlson said. "Tell Chu Teh I would like to know some- 
thing of the doctrines which govern the conduct of the men of his 
army. That's as important as their military tactics." 

When Li Po was halfway through translating Chu Teh smiled 
broadly and pushed back his blue forage cap in a gesture of decision. 

"Good," he said. "Tomorrow, I will call a meeting of my staff and 
you can ask them all the questions you want. The trip with the army 
well discuss later. Now let's eat." 

There were talks with the Staff, with the political director, Jen 
Pch-hsi, whom Carlson describes as a man with "bird-like alertness," 
with Tso Chuan, the acting Chief of Staff, with a Korean who was 
the director of the Enemy Works Department (Intelligence), and 
with many others, senior and junior officers, non-coms and enlisted 
men. For ten days he moved through the life of the camp, talking, 
listening, asking questions and being asked eager questions about 
the world outside. He learnt and he taught. They asked him to 
tell them the faults and weaknesses of the Chinese, and in turn they 
laid out their ideas in front of his mind for him to study, to reject, 
to modify, to refute. He heard Chu Teh speak of the inevitability 
of a war between Japan and the United States. They discussed the 
meaning and effect of President Roosevelt's "quarantine the ag- 
gressor" speech, the situation in Spain, the Italian recognition of 

The Eighth Route Army had simple rules for the conduct of their 
guerrillas: soldiers must ask permission before entering a house; 
they must keep the house clean, speak kindly to the people, pay for 
all they used at the market price, never commit a nuisance but dig 
latrines; must not kill or mistreat prisoners. 

"The Army might be compared to fish, and the people to the 
water through which we move," Jen Peh-hsi, the political director 
said. "The water must be cleared of obstructions, and the tempera- 
ture must be conducive to the efficient movement of the fish. The 
people, as well as the Army, must learn why we fight Japan, and 


how they can help. They must learn how to govern themselves, and 
how to live and wor^ together in harmony." 

"Work together . . ." Gung Ho! There it was again. Not quite 
as it was in the Chinese, but it was the second time he had heard 
the phrase. 

"How do your officers and men Gung Ho?" Carlson asked in 
pidgin Chinese. The question was crucial. This was the knot of 
military life which he had not yet been able to unravel. 

"By political work/' Jen Pch-hsi said. "It is the life line of our 
army. Indoctrination. . . . First, we must teach our soldiers to read. 
When units arc on the march lesson papers arc pinned on the back 
of the man ahead, so that our illiterate soldier may study as he 
marches. By every device we can think of, meetings, plays, games, 
cartoons, and of course, by example, we try to teach our men and 
ourselves the principles of honesty, humility and co-operation/' 

Political work? Carlson wondered how that might apply in his 
own army. Could it be done? Could it have been done during the 
World War? In Nicaragua? Ah, there were problems. The cause 
must be morally just or else political indoctrination is perversion, 
empty phrases for a crusade that is dishonorable. As he turned these 
thoughts over, he prayed that if ever again his country went to war, 
its morality would be so clear that he could with full heart teach his 
men the reasons for their sacrifice. 

He turned to Jen Pch-hsi and Chu Teh urgently. 

"What about your officers and men?" he demanded. 

"Our officers," Jen Peh-hsi said, "arc, as you have seen, in daily 
and intimate contact with the men." 

"Aren't there any distinctions between them?" 


"Not even social ones? Different messes? After duty?" 

"See for yourself, Ts'an Tsan," Chu Teh said. 

"What are officers?" Jen Peh-hsi asked. "They are leaders. And 
how do we tell whether a man is a leader? He is a leader if he has 
given his men convincing proof of his ability to lead, his correctness 
and swiftness of decision, his courage, his willingness to share every- 
thing with his men. If he proves all this, then he is respected. His 


men have confidence in him. But men and their leaders are com- 
rades. Off duty, they are on equal social basis. They salute only on 
duty and only when they are addressing each other formally for 
purposes of transacting business." 

"How much of your plans of the battles do you tell your men?" 

"Men who know most fight best," Chu Teh said. 

"Yes," Jen Peh-hsi added. "That's another thing, Ts'an Tsan. 
Before our troops go into battles the leaders hold a meeting with 
them and explain the reasons for the engagement and the tactics 
that will be used. After the battle another meeting is held at which 
time we discuss our mistakes, for only by knowing our mistakes, 
men and leaders together, can we learn how to correct them." 

"Do you have a name for your way of doing things?" Carlson 
inquired. There was a need in him to be precise about this method 
of life. 

Jen Peh-hsi looked at Chu Teh and then back at Carlson, and 
shrugged. "Political indoctrination, perhaps. We don't have a 

"Military political indoctrination," Li Po suggested. "Does that 
help, Ts'an Tsan?" 

Carlson thought a minute. "No," he said. "It's more than that. 
What you do does more than help win battles or inform people as 
to the reasons of their condition. You're teaching yourselves and 
people how to live like decent human beings. It's more than 
politics, military tactics, mass spirit, sacrifice . . ." He was search- 
ing for the right word. It was important! He could invest his 
whole life in words that men acted upon! Finally it came and 
clanged like a bell inside him. 

"It's ethics!" he cried. "That's what describes it. Ethical living, 
ethical politics, ethical tactics. It's ethical indoctrination!" 

It was as if he had known it all along. Fifteen years before he 
had written an essay for his officers' class in Quantico. He had 
said that ethics was the conscious striving of men for the welfare 
of society as a whole. 

His father was an ethical man. Franklin Roosevelt was an ethical 
man. There were millions of ethical men in the world. He had 


once wondered if he'd ever find them together, living, working, 
striving together. Where existed a society of ethical men? he had 
asked. And now he had found one in the hills of Shansi province 
in China, in the sprawling areas of the Eighth Route Army. He 
could say without equivocation he had come on it like a Columbus. 
Here, among the heathen were Christians, among the atheists were 
men loving men as dearly as Christ would have wanted them to. 
Here, with all its primitiveness, human weaknesses and imperfec- 
tions, was a community which practised the Sermon. It was what 
he had wanted to believe was possible somewhere in the world, 
among any kind of men. 

It was possible. 

And so it went, the talk and countertalk, the learning and the 
asking. And Carlson never felt so alive and so hopeful of himself 
as in those clear, sharp, bright December days. 

This by-thc-book Marine Corps officer, this tough-fibcrcd Yankee 
soldier had looked around the world for something he didn't know 
he was looking for; for New England, for Emerson, for Thorcau, 
for John Brown, for William James in short for a community of 
men in which there was a day-to-day translation of democratic 
ideas into democratic actions. He had been a man drunk with the 
hope that some day, somewhere, he would find men weary of 
words and passionate for their practice. In essence he had been 
searching for America for the promise of his own country. And 
he found it not in his native land of which, through the "ac- 
cident" of his work, he saw little. But he found it by the same 
"accident" in a country with an alien tongue, among men who but 
to a few were outcasts. 

He had reached a point in his life where his social conscience 
required a catalyst. His vague, naive and subjective humanitarianism 
was not satisfying him. Unconsciously he was greeting every new 
experience and every new leader he met with a longing and a hope. 
Through trial and error, sometimes by will and sometimes through 
the sheer momentum of his life, he had been seeking for a way to 
make practical his Utopian longing for an ethical society. In Chu 
Teh and in Red China he found what he needed. Without them 


he might have gone on harassed by a profound discontent, with- 
out knowing the reasons for it. Now, his life could become meaning- 
ful and thus satisfying. 

He went around to see the words in practice. He saw with his 
own eyes that Chu Teh, the commander in chief, lived no better 
than the cook; that no officer aggrandized himself or held him- 
self apart; that among these people were selflessness and brother- 
hood. He saw with his own eyes how men came directly to their 
officers, to Chu Teh, their commander, with complaints, with 
criticism, with suggestions. And on what a high level these were! 
For there was a spirit of mutual and interwoven responsibility, and 
most of the complaints, suggestions and criticisms were for the good 
of all and not for the personal satisfaction or comfort of the critic. 

He felt alive in the very special sense which William James in a 
letter to his wife so magnificently described: 

I have often thought [James wrote] that the best way to 
define a man's character would be to seek out the particular 
mental and moral attitude in which, when it came upon him, 
he felt most deeply and intensely active and alive. At such 
moments there is a voice inside which speaks and says, "This 
is the real me!" 

Carlson could say now, at last, "This is the real me!" 


"Sileftt Night" 

He was not the lone American among the Chinese Reds. There 
was another, a woman, one of the most extraordinary "womanly" 
women of our times. Her name was Agnes Smedley. 

In her book, Battle Hymn of China, she writes of their meeting: 


When I heard that Carlson had arrived, I decided to give 
him a wide berth. My experience with American officials in 
China had not been enviable. Most of them thought of the 
Chinese as "Chinamen" who took in washing for a living; 
I didn't like their religion so to speak. Because I regarded the 
Red Army as a revolutionary organi'/ation of the poor, some 
Americans considered me a glorified street-walker; and after 
the Japanese invasion their women in particular had looked 
on me as a camp follower, a creature who lowered the prestige 
of the white race. 

One day I was sitting on a mud bank watching two Army 
units in a basketball game when Chu Teh came up behind 
me and asked me to meet one of my countrymen. 

"I've long wanted to meet you, Miss Smedlcy," Captain 
Carlson said. 

"Well, now you've met me," I remarked, and turned back 
to the ball game. 

Carlson records the same incident in his book, Twin Stars of 
China, and he adds that when Agnes Smedley replied, "Well, you've 
met me," there was considerable and puzzling belligerence in her 

"I doubt if he knew that, when we first met in the Eighth Route 
Army Headquarters," Agnes Smedley wrote in a letter to the 
author, "I considered him a military spy sent by the American 
Embassy and the Marine Corps ... I regarded him not only as a 
spy against that army, but a traitor to the principles on which the 
American republic had been founded. 

"Because of Evans' background in Nicaragua and with the Marine 
Corps generally, I had little faith that he would understand the 
Eighth Route Army. He did not know my deep-seated hostility to 
all that he represented. We had only coffee in common, it seemed. 
I talked and explained everything I knew of that army, and the 
headquarters did the rest. Then the troops in the field and the 
common people who were their strength and support opened Evans' 

Agnes Smedley looked woefully grim in her military uniform, 
Carlson observed. Her face had the signs on it of suffering. But 


he saw that there was no vanity in Agnes Smedley. "Absolute 
honesty in thought, speech and action was written all over her," 
he recorded m his diary that night. 

He had heard of Agnes Smedley before this, from the Snows and, 
through them, from her autobiography, Daughter of Earth. 

Roughhewn out of Missouri poverty, out of Colorado mining camp 
poverty, she fought her way to self-knowledge and independence 
in a world where a woman who wanted the same freedom as men 
was branded a maverick. Maverick she was proudly. She fought 
for the rights of women, and it followed that she fought for all op- 
pressed people. Capitalists called her a Red, and Reds, because of 
the way she went about it, called her an idealist, a bourgeois demo- 
crat. She went to China in 1928 and found a whole people being 
treated by the world like the world treats a woman. She grasped 
the symbolism of foreign invasion, of Chinese integrity, of the 
feudal pigtail, of the binding of the Chinese women's feet, in short, 
of "the rape of China" by its own masculine and barbaric past as 
well as by the ruthless "running dogs of imperialism" (male dogs, 
to be sure). She became an ally of every Chinese who made a stand 
for decency among men and equality with women. In the Chinese 
Reds she found what she was looking for, though even here, as 
we shall see, her victories were not without struggle. In the days of 
misery for the Chinese Reds, during the Long March and the 
retreats, she risked her life to bring them aid. Almost entirely alone, 
she sent out news from the heart of the heart of China to the world 
outside. She had sufTered for this from the anti-Red Chinese and 
from her own countrymen, but her pain was made easier by the 
thought that perhaps one more Chinese woman had won the respect 
of her husband, and that somewhere else, perhaps tomorrow, another 
would be freed of the bondage of the dray horse. 

Smedley and Carlson spent a great deal of time together in this 
headquarters village, walking, talking, exploring each other's lives 
and ideas. 

To him, as he wrote in his diary, "she was grand, attractive, alive, 
animated, wise, courageous, a wonderful companion, impetuous, 
wants things done right away." 


To her, as she wrote much later in her book, he was "as firm as 
the farmers of his native New England. . . . His principles were 
deeply rooted in early American Jeffersonian democracy." And he 
reminded her of the words of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," 
"As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free." 

They were in love with each other, not as a man and a woman, 
but as two equal humans, as comrades. 

Their friendship became one of the "firmest in my life, welded 
in the fires of war," Agnes Smcdlcy wrote. 

As for Carlson, his admiration grew not merely because she knew 
many things he didn't or because her physical courage was unsur- 
passed, but because she, this American, "had forsaken the comforts 
of what we regard as civilization for a primitive life among an alien 
people. Her one desire," he wrote, "was to remain with these people 
who were making such a valiant effort to realize the ideals for which 
she had consistently fought." 

Giving up comforts for an ideal! There was nothing in human 
experience which won his respect so quickly. Chu Teh had done 
it, Mao Tsc-tung and the others whom he met or would meet soon, 
had done it. A whole army had clone it! To Carlson such people 
almost literally proved the life and sacrifice of Christ. 

It is perhaps this selfless clement in Communist China which 
explains why, as Nathaniel PC fie r described it, "There is something 
in Communist China that captures the imagination of all sorts and 
conditions of men. Emotional radicals, objective intellectuals, neutral 
correspondents, diplomatic officials, military officers hardly given to 
excessive sympathy for radicalism regardless of occupation or class 
or previous attitudes or social convictions, they all come away from 
Yenan ardent defenders if not enthusiasts." n 

One evening at dinner, Carlson remarked to Chu Teh that it 
seemed to him about time to get out to the front. 

"I've learnt your ethical indoctrination," he said. "But I want to 
learn your guerrilla tactics." 

Chu Teh nodded abstractedly without saying anything and Carl- 
son felt resistance. 

6 New Yor% Times Boo% Review, October 28, 1945. 


Chu Teh went on slowly. "Ts'an Tsan, it's difficult. Very danger- 
ous. Our front is so often changed." 

"I'm willing to take the chance." 

Chu Teh shrugged and changed the subject. 

Later Carlson said to Agnes Smedley, "Chu Teh is concerned 
over my safety. He doesn't want me to take chances." 

"Reassure him," Smedley said. "I don't know how, but find some 
way. I know he's always trying to keep me from stopping a Jap 

That night Carlson wrote a letter to Ambassador Nelson John- 
son in Hankow. 

"I'm going to the front soon," he wrote, "at my own request, and 
against the advice of Commander Chu Teh. If I should be killed 
or wounded I want it distinctly understood that no blame is to de- 
volve on the Eighth Route Army or on the Chinese government." 

Next morning he brought the letter unsealed to Chu Teh and 
asked Li Po to translate it for the general. When Chu Teh heard 
the letter, he smiled. 

"I would like you to mail it, General," Carlson said. "I want 
you to be satisfied that it has been sent." 

"We trust you, Ts'an Tsan," Chu Teh said, but he was obvi- 
ously relieved. "Now, what part of the front do you want to go 

"To Wu T'ai Shan." 

Chu Teh frowned, wiped his furrowed forehead unhappily. 
"Why do you pick the most dangerous front?" 

"Because it's dangerous." 

Chu Teh pulled over a map and showed it to Carlson. "At this 
moment, Ts'an Tsan, eight Japanese columns are trying to smash 
into that area. You'll have to pass through tight Jap lines." 

"In that way I'll see more action." 

"You know, Ts'an Tsan," Chu Teh said, laughing, "if I weren't 
a soldier like you, I'd think you were crazy." He rose and offered 
his thick, creased, hard hand to Carlson. "Next week, you go to 
Wu T'ai Shan. You can take Li Po with you for interpreter. And 
I'll send a bodyguard and an orderly with you, too." 


"Just Li Po, General," Carlson said with a grin. 
Chu Teh shook his head stubbornly. "We'd like to keep you 
alive, Ts'an Tsan." 

Diary : 

I told Agnes about my trip to the front, and at dinner to- 
night at 4 P.M. (our usual hour) Agnes asked Chu Teh for 
permission to go to Wu T'ai Shan with me. Both Chu Teh 
and Jen Peh-hsi demurred. They ofTered various excuses. 
Said that those who went to the front had to be prepared to 

"I'll shoot!" said Agnes. "I was raised in the West." 

"But you are a woman," they objected. 

Well, that raised Agnes' ire. She went for them with all the 
fire she possesses which is considerable. 

"I'm not a woman because I want to be," she said. And as 
an afterthought, she flung out with biting sarcasm, "God 
made me this way!" 

Well, that brought down the house, for, of course, they were 
all atheists. 

Chu Teh finally explained that though Agnes was right about 
equality for women, it was really a question of weighing which 
way she would be more effective, as a soldier in the field or as a 
writer on behalf of social justice. 

"I'll decide that for myself," Agnes Smedley cried. 

"It's too important for an individualist decision," Jen Peh-hsi 

"I propose we vote on it," Chu Teh said. "That's the democratic 
way. Who, but Agnes, feels she should go?" 

Jen Peh-hsi said, "I vote against risking her life needlessly." 

Agnes Smedley looked at Carlson appealingly. 

"No electioneering at the polls," he said. "I vote to keep you 

"I vote to go," Smedley said firmly. 

"You lose," Chu Teh said. 

"But I still want to go!" 


"The election's over," Carlson said with a laugh. "Let's go out 
and light a bonfire." 

Christmas Eve. Agnes came into Carlson's little room with some 
coffee to celebrate. With a half a pound of peanuts which he had 
bought for the occasion, the feast was laid. 

"I leave for the front tomorrow," Carlson said. "I've never been 
so excited." He went over to the charcoal stove to get some hot 
water for the coffee. 

"If I don't see you before you get back to civilization, Evans," 
Smedley said, "I warn you that there's one question which all our 
fair ladies in the foreign colonies will ask." 

"What's that?" 

"What does the Red Army man do for women?" 

Carlson laughed aloud. "Well, what does he do?" 

Smedley got serious. She put down her cup. "The virtue of con- 
tinence is taught in this army," she said. "I've been with them a 
long time and I never heard of a case of rape. Nor is there prosti- 
tution. That's considered exploitation of women, and the Reds are 
against exploitation of any human being." 

Carlson thought that over a moment and picked up his enameled 
cup and sipped some coffee. "It would be a nice thing, Agnes," he 
said slowly, "if back home tomorrow morning in every church 
the minister preached a Christmas sermon on the exploitation of 
human beings." 

"Would they be against it?" 

"Real Christianity is against it. Jesus spoke against it." 

"Jesus is dead." 

Carlson smiled sadly. "There are many for whom He lives." 

"You, for example, Evans?" 

"There are many, Agnes. Just think what a world we'd have if 
all of us practiced the Sermon on the Mount." 

Smedley smiled. "I never heard your father preach, Evans. But 
Til bet you sound like him." 

"My father comes as close to being a practicing Christian as a man 
can be." He laughed as a memory returned to him. "I guess that's 
why I ran away from home." 


"Where were you last year Christmas?" she asked him. 

"Quantico. Civilization. Of a sort," he added. "We celebrated in 

"Let's celebrate in our own style," Smedley said. 

"Do you know any carols?" 

She thought a moment. "No. Not a one." 

There was a silence. The steam from the pot on the stove made a 
hissing noise, accompanied by the crackles of the burning charcoal. 
Outside, in the cold winter streets, a group of soldiers sauntered, 
singsonging their Chinese loudly. 

"I know some Negro spirituals," Smedley said, after awhile. 

Carlson opened his little pack and took out a chromatic har- 
monica. "You sing the spirituals," he said. "And I'll play some 
carols on my harmonica." 

Agnes Smedley took ofl her soldier's cap and moved to the side 
of the warm stove. She rubbed her hands together briskly, and look- 
ing into the glow began to sing softly. 

When Israel was in Egypt's land, 

Let my people go ... 

Oppressed so hard, they could not stand . . . 

Let my people go. 

Carlson's harmonica joined the chorus. 

Go down, Moses, 'way down in Egypt's land. 
Tell ole Pharaoh. Let my people go! 

They were silent after that. Carlson took a poker and stirred the 
fire. He was thinking of Plymouth. 

"Do you know 'Silent Night'?" Smedley asked him. "If you do, 
I'll sing. As much as I remember." 

He cuddled the harmonica against his lips, then closed his eyes 
a moment to remember the opening chord. 

Silent night, holy night, 
All is calm, all is bright 
Round yon virgin mother and child . . . 

Afterwards, Carlson played, "From the halls of Montezuma, to 
the shores of Tripoli . . ." Then he grinned, took a swig of coffee, 


and swung into "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning." 
"Do you know 'My Country Tis of Thee'?" Agnes Smedley 

asked. "I love that song." 
She stood up and joined Carlson at the stove. Loudly the words 

came from her lips. 

My country 'tis of thee, 
Sweet land of liberty. 

They stood at attention until the song was over. Then, afterwards, 
they sat clown again and were quiet. 

Chu Teh and others came in. It was a good thing. The Ameri- 
cans were too lonely. 

"We want to celebrate with you," Chu Teh said. 

They drank more coffee, and talked, and proposed toasts, and 
made jokes, then Tso Ch'uan did a sword dance, and Chu Teh 
sang a ballad of longing, a sad, stirring, homesick song which he 
had learned in his Szechuan birth province. 

When it was time to leave, Chu Teh said what Carlson had been 
thinking, "Tonight we have the brotherhood of man." 


// a man has only legs 

It was the day after Christmas, cold, clear, bright. 

Two squads of fourteen men each, all carrying Tommy guns, 
lined up in front of Chu Teh's headquarters. With them were a 
half a dozen hsiao \wcis (little devils), Red Army apprentices, 
clucking with excitement. Behind the two squads came a train of 
fourteen pack animals with medical supplies for an Eighth Route 
Army division at Wu T'ai Shan 200 miles to the northeast. Carlson 
took his place in line, his heavy pack slung over his left shoulder. 


Chu Teh had offered him a mount, but he said he wanted to 
march. With him was his interpreter and friend, Li Po. 

The patrol leader gave the command to march, "Tsou Pa!" The 
advance guard started down the trail to the east. The rest of the 
patrol followed in single line. 

Among the crowd watching them go was Chu Teh and Agnes 
Smedley. Chu Teh waved farewell and then gave Carlson the 
American military salute. 

But Agnes called out at the top of her voice, "Good luck, Evans." 

Down at the head of the line a voice started singing an odd mel- 
ody, defiant and bitterly sad. It flared along the marching men like 
an incendiary fire in a high wind. 

Here we were born and here we were raised, 

Every inch of the soil is ours; 
Whoever tries to take it away from us, 

Him we will fight to the end. 

Through the villages they marched. 

"Everywhere I went, I seemed to be a curiosity," he wrote in his 
diary. "I inquired about it and they told me that I was the first 
foreigner through these parts. If I stop for boiled water, a crowd 
gathers. I resented this at first but I got used to it." 

They marched at the rate of about three miles an hour for the 
first days, to get into trim. The men sang and made loud jokes. 
One lad of 13, just graduated from a radio school, dogged Carlson's 
steps, muttering the code to himself, "Dit-da-dit, da-da-da, dit-dit- 

28 December 
Had a miserable night last night. Sciatica in my right thigh. 

Getting old, I guess. Up at 0600; a few hours later we started 
to cross the Hei Fen (Black Tiger) Mountains. A climb of 
five miles put us on top. 

29 December 
Climbing another mountain today. I gradually worked up 

to head the column, because I was feeling particularly fit and 
because I wanted to see what the troops would do. Well, it 


wasn't long before one of the escort with a Tommy gun inched 
his way ahead of me and stayed there the rest of the climb. 

The days went by, swiftly duplicating each other. The early start, 
the long march, the climb, the breaks for boiled water and rice, the 
little villages, the hospitable people lining the road and cheering 
them, the puffy magistrates full of ceremony. And toward eve- 
ning when the patrol leader, T'ien, finding a village, would call on 
the chief, ask for billeting and receive it in friendly style, the men 
would spread their blankets in the little houses, wash their feet, 
and eat their second meal of the day, usually of millet, bean curd 
and cabbage soup. 

The weather was cold and the men suffered, for their clothes 
were thin and their feet badly shod. Carlson taught them how to 
gargle their sore throats with warm water and salt, and doctored 
the sickest ones with the supplies Admiral Marquadt had given 

It was bare mountain country, woodless and cut grotesquely by 
the geological knife. 

Fighters from divisions in the field joined the patrol for days at 
a time and from their leaders Carlson added to his knowledge of 
guerrilla tactics. Guerrillas must never remain at one place for a 
long time. They must augment their forces by men from the neigh- 
borhood, by winning their respect. Guerrillas never enter a battle 
without very strong indications that they can win it. They avoid 
static warfare, for they have no reserves, no line of supplies, no 
rear. Surprise is their chief weapon. Decoys, feints, distractions, pre- 
tense are vital. "We stop at nothing," the men said. "We wear 
women's clothes, Japanese uniforms, we'd go naked if it helped 
disguise us." 

"Comrade Peng Teh-huai, our great guerrilla leader," he was 
told, "once said that important as tactics are, we could not exist 
if the majority of the people did not support us. They are our eyes 
and ears. They hide us and feed us. We are nothing but their fists." 

Everywhere there were schools: schools for partisans, for women, 
for children, self-defense, national salvation, agriculture, peasant 


handicraft, machinists. Carlson visited them all, for he soon came 
to see how much his presence helped the students. The fact that 
a foreigner and a military man had deemed them important enough 
to march all those miles to see them expanded their pride and 

And at each school, as well as with the soldiers of the garrisons 
and the Eighth Route Army whom he met, he had to answer more 
questions than he asked. What would Chiang Kai-shek do after 
the victory? What was Hitler doing now, Russia, Great Britain, 
and of course, most important, would America help them? 

By the tenth they approached the war zone. They had a mixed 
force of about 600 men. Chen Hsi-lien was in over-all command. 

The terrain roughened now. The mountains were higher. Vil- 
lages along their route had been evacuated, and were empty shells 
of poverty. 

Ahead was the Chengtai railroad which ran from Sian to Pei- 
ping. They would have to cross it to get to Wu T'ai, and march 
through an area nominally in Jap hands. 

On the morning of the day they were to cross a peasant came in 
to the village where they had spent the night with news that a Japa- 
nese column was moving eastward down a valley which joined 
theirs a mile and a half away at the little village of Tung Yen T'o. 

75 January 

Chen Hsi-lien left to investigate. Ten minutes later he re- 
turned. The news was correct. The situation was serious. He 
had decided to go forward to make a personal survey while 
the rest of the patrol would move back to Chen Ai, a moun- 
tain about three miles away. I asked his permission to go with 
him. He said that nothing of importance would occur. I did 
not want to embarrass him by my presence and I left with the 
patrol for the mountain. While we were packing to go, Jap- 
anese artillery was heard in the direction of Tung Yen T'o. A 
75mm howitzer. This was the Japanese favorite means of 
reconnaissance reconnaissance by fire. 

The whole village went with us across the little valley and 
up to Chen Ai. Twenty minutes after we left the village, Li Po 


turned around. He grabbed my arm and told me to look. Be- 
low us, entering the town we had just left, was a troop of 
Japanese cavalry. 

We made a billet on the mountainside but kept everything 
in readiness to move. More artillery came from Tung Yen To. 

At 7 P.M. Chen came in with a map. By candlelight, we 
studied it. 500 Japs were at Tung Yen To, and another detach- 
ment was en route there from the north. We talked over the 
situation. The mission of our patrol was to get us across the 
railroad, so it would not attack the Jap unless forced to. But 
it would remain in position between the Jap and its own base 
at the county seat of Kao Lu. 

For three days the patrol remained at Chen Ai while guerrilla 
forces and regular troops from Kao Lu engaged the Japanese. 
Feverishly Carlson followed the course of the battle by means of 
Chen's map and reports from the couriers which came to them 
from the headquarters near Tung Yen T'o. 

The Japanese marched back and forth across the valleys in the 
hope of trapping the Chinese. But Chen always knew exactly where 
the enemy was from the peasants who trailed the Jap columns with 
the skill of Red Indians. One night Chen led his men over a moun- 
tain to the rear of the Japanese position, and attacked. Surprised, 
the Japanese withdrew, leaving fifteen dead. Chen lost one dead 
and two wounded. 

During the three days on the mountain, between studying the 
battle reports and figuring out what he would do if he were Com- 
mander Chen, Carlson read Emerson to allay his impatience and 
tried translating some of the passages to the Chinese soldiers who 
told him that much of Emerson sounded as if he had plagiarized 

iqth January 

Arose early and prepared to depart. There was a cry of pu 
tso outside. Bad news for us. The Japs tried to pull a fast one 
by hiding half their column in a ravine while the other half 
made the withdrawal. The partisan spies had them spotted 
before they made camp. But it means the trail is not clear, 
and we must wait. 


20th January 

Told this morning that tomorrow we leave. At 1230 we 
were informed we will leave immediately. There are fifty 
students with us now, among them one girl, Chang Hsueh- 
hwa, the wife of Nieh Yong-sen, the commander at Wu Tai. 

21 st January 

Went through Tung Yen T'o which the Japs had captured 
and then left. There was ample evidence of what such occupa- 
tion means. The town was ruined, every piece of woodwork 
taken from the houses and burnt, leaving only mud walls. A 
few old men were burying the bodies of three of their number 
who had been shot by the invader. One had not understood 
an order quickly enough, one refused to k'ou t'ou (kneel to 
the ground) for an officer, the third had been killed for no 
reason at all. 

After leaving Tung Yen T'o, we moved into the heart of 
the mountains. One company covered our western flank by 
following a parallel mountain ridge. Climbed three moun- 
tains today. Tomorrow four, they say. Weather about 35 de- 
grees by day, 25 by night. It is quite a sight to watch our 
lengthy column of blue-clad figures wind up and down the 
mountain trails as far as the eye could reach. I was upset today 
by the abominable way our pack mules are handled. No one 
can pack them efficiently and they are always in difficulties. 

On the 22nd they were too near the railroad and the military 
highway which ran parallel to it to light fires, and they ate cold 

At three o'clock that afternoon the chief guide, a battalion com- 
mander named K'ung, called the men together and gave his final 
orders. No talking, no smoking, no coughing. Keep as close together 
as possible. An advance guard would capture the town at the high- 
way until they passed through. The next company would then be- 
come the advance guard and seize the rail crossing. That was all. 
Good luck. 

"Tsou Pa!" 

The column curled down a slope. 

The setting sun flared beautiful designs on the sky behind them. 


Ahead was a river bed and a 3000-foot mountain on the other 

Night came when they reached the summit, and the darkness 
fingered each man nervously. 

A tall fire suddenly bloomed brightly against the black shank of 
a near-by mountain. Was it a signal or merely a peasant burning 
off his winter terraces? There was no talk of what it was. Each 
man speculated silently. 

Now, down the trail. . . . Smooth round stones turned easily 
under foot. It was walking in an earthquake. Men fell and cursed 
softly, but got themselves up again and took their places. The deep 
panting of the lungs, the soft pattering of felt-soled shoes, the sharp 
burst of trickling stones were the only sounds. 

The moon came up late that night and the stars were very bright. 
Carlson tried to watch them. But he couldn't watch them and keep 
his feet. 

Dogs, barking like trumpets against their straining ears, told them 
the village at the highway was close by. 

K'ung, the guide, dropped back to Carlson, took his hand, and 
ran with him up to the highway. Black against the night were fig- 
ures of the advance guard lined up on both sides. 

K'ung and Carlson sped across. 

"The motorcar road," K'ung whispered when they were on the 
other side. 

Five miles ahead on the other side of a mountain was the rail- 

The column moved swiftly. They were in a trap that might yet 
be sprung. The village, held by the Japs, was behind them. There 
was ample time for word to get to the enemy garrison near the rail 
crossing. Perhaps, thought Carlson, that is why they let us across 
the highway 'so easily. He suddenly wished he had a cigarette or a 
pipe. It was in Pciping four years ago that he had stopped smoking. 
It had been a matter of health. But now he wanted to smoke more 
than anything else. He laughed at himself. A man has only one 
life. He should never give up small pleasures even if they hurt him 
a little. One life, that's all a man had . . . 


He wondered, too, at the speed of the column. Five miles up a 
mountain at double-quick. Stonewall Jackson's foot cavalry, he 
reflected, was a mere turtle compared to this. The five miles were 
five hundred miles. The sweat on his face stayed wet in the freez- 
ing air. 

Suddenly K'ung appeared out of the darkness and took Carlson's 
hand again. Together they scrambled down a slope, across a foot- 
bridge, up an embankment and through a culvert beneath the 

K'ung stopped short, perked up his round, sensible-looking head 
to listen, then shook Carlson's hand. 

"I go back now," he said. "Company Commander Tcng will 
escort you the rest of the way." 

He saluted punctiliously and glided back into the darkness. 

Then came the sound of scuffling and a falling body. Someone 
grunted, "Your mother!" and figures ran up. 

"We've captured four Chinese traitors," a man whispered to 
Carlson. "They were guarding the tracks for the Jap." 

Commander Teng sought out Carlson. 

"We must move fast now, Ts'an Tsan," he said. "The Japs arc 
in a town a half a mile away. They will know that we have crossed 
when they miss their Chinese guards." 

So no rest now, but putting one foot ahead of the other and ahead 
of the other and ahead of the other until he could not feel his feet 
or know he was walking. The breath sliced his lungs like razors and 
his arms and face became numb and seemed to float free of the 

A thought came to him slowly, struggling into his mind through 
a sargasso sea of fatigue. 

This was the eighth mountain they had climbed since eight o'clock 
that morning. The eighth mountain in twenty hours. He tried to 
figure the time they had rested. Five minutes here. Ten minutes 
there. Perhaps no more than a half-hour that whole day. 

It suddenly came to him that during these twenty hours not one 
man had straggled or dropped out. This was exceptional endurance. 
Beyond any he had known before. 


He glanced at a soldier next to him. What made him endure 

The soldier smiled. "A long march, eh?" he said between the 
pushes of his breathing. 

"Tired?" Carlson grunted. 

"If a man has only legs he get tired," the soldier said, 
gasping out the words. 

The words kept time in his head with his slogging feet. He tried 
to get their meaning. Why if a man has only legs? 

But now he noticed that he was lagging, falling behind. Men were 
streaming past him. 

Ahead of him was the main body of the patrol. Only Li Po and 
Ching, his bodyguard, were at his side. 

"Damn it! I can't let the Eighth Route get the better of a Marine," 
he thought, and plowed forward. 

But the men in front seemed to be speeding away from him as at 
the finish of a hundred-yard dash. 

Finally, as if in a nightmare, the summit. A plateau swept by a 
bitter wind from the north. He saw the bodies of men stretched 
out on the bony top, groaning in their sleep as, but a few minutes 
before, they had been groaning in the climb. 

"It's safe here for a few minutes," Teng said. 

"Do you have a cigarette, Teng?" 

Teng smiled and gave him one. Carlson sucked in the smoke, 
bitter now to his taste. "I'm never going to give up smoking again," 
he said. 

The moon was rising. He sat down and looked around him, sud- 
denly not so tired, suddenly feeling the sense of his own life and 
that of the men around. 

He would never forget what he saw, for with all its terror of a 
man chase, and the obscenity of bottomless fatigue, it was a beautiful 

It was bitterly cold [he wrote in his book]. Out of the eastern 
horizon a full moon was rising, its rich glow giving the 
adjacent hills a pale yellow hue and creating the illusion that 
we gazed into a phantom world. Overhead familiar constella- 


tions twinkled cheerily in a blanket of unbelievable blue. And 
all around was silence, save for the heavy breathing of the 
prostrate forms. But for these sleeping figures I might have 
been on a mountain-top in Europe or America, so universal 
is the topography of night. But they were Chinese, and this 
was China, and those blue-clad forms were here because they 
sought to save this China from those who labored below to 
take it from them. 7 

And why was he here? 

That was simple. He was doing his duty. 

Was it any more than that? 

It was simply that the accidents of duty brought him here, he 
told himself. And, of course, he was lucky to have such duty, to 
open his eyes to such newness of spirit, to bring him into so dedi- 
cated a community of men. 

"I wonder if they have started to follow us," Commander Teng 
said. Then he sighed, arose from his crouching position and started 
waking the men. 

In a few minutes, the familiar command was passed. "Tsoti Pa!" 

Carlson gave Li Po a couple of aspirin tablets and took some him- 
self. It would help keep them going. 

Five hours later they reached a village. They were hungry for 
food and sleep, and happy they were safe. But before they had a 
chance to eat a peasant galloped up with a report of a pursuing Jap 

Weary beyond bearing, the men repacked the mules and, uncom- 
plaining, slung their own packs over aching shoulders. 

"Tsou Pa! . . ." 

Fifteen burdensome and infinitely long miles later, in the late 
afternoon, they found security in a village garrisoned by a strong 
unit of the Eighth Route Army. Now they could rest. "O good 
sleep!" the men yelled. "O my mother!" 

Carlson was beyond tiredness and after he and Li Po and Ching 
ate their fill he wanted to talk just a little while before going to 

7 Twin Stars of China (New York, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1940). This 
book has been an invaluable aid in describing Carlson's Chinese trips. 


sleep. He wanted to tell them how extraordinary the 600 men were. 
They had marched fifty-eight miles in thirty-two hours. They had 
done the first stretch of forty-three miles in twenty hours. And not 
one had fallen by the way, not one had straggled. Did these men 
know what they had? Did they know why they had shown such 
endurance? What was it? Where did it come from? How was it 
related to ethical indoctrination? 

Carlson wanted to talk to them about this but Ching and Li Po 
were snoring lightly, and he too closed his eyes and fell into a 
dreamless sleep. 

"If I ever have an outfit of my own," Carlson told Li Po the next 
morning, "I'm going to give them ethical indoctrination. I'm go- 
ing to show them how they can find the will to sacrifice, and the 
desire to endure. This is not a Chinese thing but a human thing. 
This is what makes great soldiers." 

Fifty-one days and one thousand miles passed from the time 
Carlson said good-by to Chu Teh and Agnes Smedley to the time 
he saw them again. His left shoulder on which he had carried his 
pack had a half-inch callous growth on it. 

During his time in Shansi he learnt many things. He had met 
and lived with peasants, shared their food, heard their complaints. 
He had talked with provincial leaders like General Yen Hsi-shan, 
Chiang Kai-shek's representative, whose troops were listless and 
sullen, and indifferent. "What are you fighting for?" he had asked 
them when his patrol met a column of General Yen's men. "Your 
mother!" they cursed. "Who knows what we're fighting for?" The 
General himself was a tired old man, more merchant than soldier, 
who was forced to tolerate the Eighth Route Army in his province 
because they were fighting the Japs for him. 

Yes, he had learnt the Chinese people, but he was conscious only 
of very immediate things. These Chinese were fighting a hard war. 
The population among whom they fought was starving, but more 
important, the fighters themselves, though fierce, unyielding and 
loyal, were without the sustenance to fight. 

They went into battle with ancient weapons, with battered rifles, 


often with less than half a dozen rounds apiece. They had only 
a paltry supply of demolitions, and time and again they were beaten 
back because they didn't have a single stick of dynamite to blow 
up a bridge. The wounded among them were as good as dead, so 
lacking in medical supplies they were. Carlson visited their make- 
shift hospitals and saw men bleeding their lives out on straw mats, 
because there were not enough bandages and clamps. He saw men 
black with gangrene for want of antiseptics. He watched operations 
done with crude knives and scissors, and without anesthesia. 

But, withal, he was convinced that the Japanese machine, modern 
as it was, "could hardly prevail against a populace inspired and 
trained to endure the hardships which such resistance might entail. 
It could not destroy an army geared to outmarch and outsmart its 
opponent in a protracted guerrilla war. Its effort to conquer Shansi 
was about as effective as an attempt to plow the ocean." 

In this opinion he was in the minority of the foreign observers in 
Shanghai, Nanking and Hankow. 

But Shansi, he realized, was only one small part of the nation. If 
China was to survive, the whole Republic must learn from the 
Shansi guerrillas, and from the Eighth Route Army, and in turn 
the Republic must help them. But did the rest of China know what 
was being done there ? Did the Kuomintang in Hankow and Chang- 
sha and Chungking know? Did Chiang Kai-shek know? And if 
they knew even if they knew would they do anything about it? 
Or would they permit their hatred of Chu Teh and his Reds, of 
Jen Peh-hsi and his indoctrination, of the Eighth Route Army's 
democratic alliance with the peasants of Shansi to blind them? 

As I turned my face toward Hankow [Carlson wrote when 
he left Shansi] I speculated as to the willingness of Chiang 
Kai-shek to undertake the task of indoctrinating his sub- 
ordinates with the spirit of practical self-sacrifice which ani- 
mated the leaders of the 8th Route Army. Would he be will- 
ing to mobilize the people for resistance and afford them the 
civil rights and social equality which alone could command 
their unqualified devotion? 


Before I die 

When he arrived in Hankow, he found that somehow a report 
had gotten out back home that he had been killed by the Red ban- 
dits, and he hastily cabled his father and mother in Plymouth, re- 
assuring them that he was still alive. 

He was full of the fire of what he had witnessed, and wrote his 
report for Admiral Yarnell and Naval Intelligence, and he sent 
several letters to President Roosevelt. But the rest of his time, day 
and night, was spent in talking to whomever he could find about 
the men fighting at Wu T'ai Shan, their achievements, their dis- 
ciplines, and most of all their heartbreaking sacrifices. 

Ilona Ralf Sues, author of Shares Fins and Millet, and once 
private secretary to Madame Chiang Kai-shek, met Carlson at this 
time. She wrote: 

The skinny, bony six-footer, with his tanned, deep-lined 
face, his strong nose, his kindly twinkling eyes, became part 
and parcel of our little group. Anyone looking at Carlson 
once could not possibly miss the rust-colored riding breeches, 
the rough tweed jacket over a thick hand-knitted pullover, 
and the big pipe he either puffed or handled as a Chinese 
storyteller handles his fan to express an idea, a thought, a 
situation. Carlson had the tough health of a trapper, the staunch 
heart of a soldier, and the pure sweet soul of a saint. Add to 
this a deep love for mankind, freedom and democracy, and a 
well-tempered sense of humor, and you will have a more or 
less complete picture of the man. 

He came back from Wu T'ai Shan [Sues relates] with 
wonderful stories of courage, and horrible accounts of con- 
ditions there. Lack of ammunition, lack of virtually every- 
thing a human being needs to continue alive food, clothing, 


blankets . . . No doctor, no medical supplies to take care of 
some 3000 wounded or of the desperately undernourished 

He had an appointment with Chiang Kai-shek. He went 
to headquarters full of hope, to present the case and get some 
help for the heroic outposts, strategically so important. We 
warned him . . . 8 

They had warned him. They had said that Chiang Kai-shek 
would not help, that he was the prisoner of his own hatred of the 
Communists and of those advisers around him who preferred to 
be puppets of the Japanese than servants of their own people. But 
Carlson had a naive faith in himself. How could any man resist 
what he would tell him? How could Chiang Kai-shek deny the 
pleas of his own countrymen for help to fight their common enemy? 
His friends at the Hankow Hotel Terminal, Agnes and Ilona, and 
Dr. Norman Bethune, head of the Medical Aid Unit sent to China 
by the Canadian and American Leagues for Peace and Democracy, 
told him that the pattern of the nations of the world these days was 
to give up everything, including their own sovereignty, rather than 
make an alliance with Reds. Carlson disbelieved them. When they 
referred to Great Britain's, France's and America's betrayal of Spain, 
Ethiopia, and Austria, now in the process of being sold to the Nazis, 
he said that Chiang Kai-shek was no Chamberlain. Had he not 
made a united front with the Reds at Sian? Then he would keep it. 
It was only that his advisers were deceitful. If Chiang knows, he'll 
help, Carlson affirmed. 

He had last seen the Generalissimo in 1929 at the rcburial of Sun 
Yat-sen on Purple Mountain in Peiping. Then he was youthful, un- 
certain of himself, almost reed-like in his eagerness. 

Hollington Tong, the Vice-Minister of Public Relations, escorted 
Carlson to Headquarters in Wuchang, across the Yangtze from 

"How much time have I got, Holly?" Carlson asked. 

Tong made a polite gesture. "Perhaps fifteen minutes, Captain. 

8 Shares Fins and Millet, by Ilona Ralf Sues (Boston: Little, Brown 
and Company, 1944). 


Or as long as the Generalissimo desires to keep you. He's a busy 

"I understand," Carlson said, pointing to a large roll of maps he 
was carrying. "But I've got a lot to tell him." 

They waited in the Generalissimo's office for a few moments. It 
was rather sparsely furnished, Carlson noted. He put great weight 
on the trappings with which men surrounded themselves. He so 
despised ostentation and luxury himself that he felt these vices 
could not adorn any honest man. In this his puritanism was the 
border of priggishness. 

Madame Chiang Kai-shek entered first. Carlson's first thought 
was that she had the great ability, for a lady of importance, of put- 
ting people at ease, but as they chatted, he couldn't evade the feel- 
ing that she was too conscious of herself as not only a lady of im- 
portance but of high historic destiny as well. 

The Generalissimo came in. He greeted Carlson with a cheery 
smile and a handshake. While Carlson's greetings were being trans- 
lated for him, Chiang Kai-shek stood erect watching him closely. 

Carlson thought that the man had aged greatly in the nine years 
that had lapsed. His hair was graying and his face had thinned. 
But the nine years had brought enormous poise and confidence in 
himself. That he was the Chief of State he left Carlson in no doubt, 
despite all his friendliness. His brilliant black eyes, once insecure, 
now held Carlson's own. "Relentless," was the way Carlson put it. 
"Here was intelligence, loyalty, stubbornness." 

Carlson laid out his maps on a table. 

Madame Chiang turned to her husband who was still standing 
and suggested that he sit down. 

"The Generalissimo," she told Carlson, "is still troubled by the 
back injury he got at Sian, and it's unwise for him to stand long." 

"Generalissimo," Carlson began, "Madame Chiang Kai-shek. The 
first thing I want to say is that I bring greetings from the leaders of 
the Eighth Route Army, from Chu Teh especially, and from the 
commanders of the i20th Division and the Fifth Partisan Group. 
I bring to you their sincere expressions of loyalty. The words I heard 
most among the leaders is that everything is past, the civil war, the 


bloodshed among brothers. All Chinese are brothers, and Chiang 
Kai-shek is our leader." 

The Generalissimo nodded and glanced up at his wife. 

"They firmly hope, Generalissimo, that this feeling of good will 
can continue after the victory over Japan." 

Chiang Kai-shek murmured something to Hollington Tong who 

"The Generalissimo wants to know if the Communists have any 
conditions for a postwar China?" 

"I'm not in a position to speak for them, sir. I can only say that 
r *->ni my observations the only conditions would be a democratic 
China with freedom for the people to select their own leaders, and 
the indoctrination of the people for an understanding of democracy 
political and economic." 

Chiang Kai-shek ignored the reply and requested Carlson to give 
him a military picture of the situation in Shansi. 

For about an hour Carlson described the disposition of forces in 
Shansi and answered the Generalissimo's questions. 

"Sir," Carlson said at the end, "I believe that the will-to-resist 
of the people in the Wu T'ai mountain area is stronger than any 
I've seen elsewhere. The co-operation between the army and the 
people is better than I have seen in other parts of China." 

"Why do you think this is so?" Chiang Kai-shek asked. 

"Because of two things: they are completely surrounded by the 
Japanese, and the common danger inspires them to subordinate cer- 
tain individual liberties to the common cause. They are also inspired 
by the self-sacrificing character of their leaders." 

Chiang Kai-shek was silent. 

"Generalissimo," Carlson continued urgently, "they need help. 
They need medicines and bandages and food and ammunition and 
dynamite for demolitions." 

The Generalissimo rose stiffly from his chair and thanked Carlson 
for giving them his opinions. He failed to mention the appeal. 

Carlson did not speak though he knew it was his place to offer 
his thanks in turn. He felt set down, dismissed, and he minded it, 
not for himself, but for those Chinese brothers of Chiang Kai-shek 


in the freezing North who were fighting their common enemy with 
skill but with empty bellies, with fierceness but with empty guns 
and few of them. Two lines of an Emerson poem slipped on the 
screen of his mind as apt for this moment of desperate disappoint- 

Things are in the saddle, 
And ride mankind. 

He tried to find some way of re-opening the discussion, of ask- 
ing the Generalissimo in another way for help, but he realized that 
his official position as an American naval attache permitted only f 
diplomatic suggestion, and he had already done this. 

In the hope that something might come if he delayed Chiang 
Kai-shek's departure another minute, Carlson opened his notebook 
to a blank page and asked for Chiang's autograph. 

The pencil Chiang was using had a red lead in one end and a 
blue lead in the other. He bent down to write, saw that the red 
point was down, then quickly flipped the pencil over and wrote with 
the blue point. "It was a split-second gesture," Carlson wrote later, 
"but it implied much." 

Carlson came back from Chiang Kai-shek's headquarters utterly 
discouraged. "He was almost aged," Ilona Ralf Sues wrote. "The 
lobby of the Terminal was full of people. He put his big hand on my 
shoulder, towering over me. 

" 'Let's have a drink in the dining room,' he said. Tm chilled 
to the marrow of my bones. He and the Madame listened to me 
with that impenetrable, icy indifference. . . . They won't do a 
thing for Wu T'ai Shan.' " 

But Carlson did not give up. In the dying city, raided three to ten 
times a day by Japanese bombers, he and Agnes Smedley and Epis- 
copal Bishop Logan Roots, who had been in China forty years, and 
Dr. Richard Brown of the Canadian Church Mission, and Dr. Nor- 
man Bethune, the stocky Canadian chest specialist who had laid 
the groundwork for the use of blood plasma in Spain, scrounged, 
stole and saved to raise money. They begged. They organized lot- 
teries. They threatened everyone shamelessly. And within a month 


Dr. Brown, following Carlson's route, reached Wu Tai Shan with 
some medical supplies. 

Carlson saw other Chinese leaders, and within the frustrating and 
restrictive limits of his diplomatic position he tried to interest them 
in the fate of the Shansi guerrillas. 

"They are fighting in the most strategic area of North China," he 
argued. "Japan's conquests there will be without decision and costly. 
With your help, the Eighth Route Army will not only resist, but 
will also drive out the 100,000 Jap troops." 

Carlson could not seem to get the Kuomintang and Government 
leaders at Hankow to see it. He talked with "Christian" General 
Feng Yu-hsiang, Vice-Chairman of the Military AfTairs Commis- 
sion, of which the Generalissimo was Chairman. He talked to the 
Minister of War, General Ho Ying-ching, he who had wanted to 
bomb Sian and Chiang Kai-shek included. He pleaded with Dr. 
H. H. Kung, Minister of Finance. And with the exception of 
Dr. Kung, they were all polite and indiflerent. Kung was polite 
and interested. 

Carlson did not underestimate their patriotism, but he was im- 
pressed with their shortsightedness. He disliked the comfortable 
way they lived, their clothes and food and homes and offices. He con- 
stantly compared these with the primitive conditions of life among 
the leaders in the North. If he had not seen the front soldiers, he 
might have lost his faith in China. 

During this time in Hankow he was invited by Agnes Smedley 
to meet Chou En-lai, the Communist leader, who in the post-Sian 
United Front had become a member of the National Government. 
He was the son of a Mandarin family, slender, gentle, shy, whose 
private ambition might well have been to be a poet. With Chu Teh 
and Mao Tse-tung, he was one of the three most prominent Reds in 
China. It was he who had helped his old enemy Chiang Kai-shek 
at Sian. 

At dinner, they talked. Carlson had the advantage, for Ed Snow 
had told him Chou En-lai's history. 

9 Confirmed by such observers as Owen Lattimore, T. A. Bisson, 
Guenther Stein, Edgar Snow, Nym Wales, Harrison Forman and others. 


"I was in Shanghai in April 1927," Carlson told him. "The time 
you were there." 

"When I was arrested?" Chou inquired. 


Chou became thoughtful, as if he were trying to recall something 
deeply obscured in the past. "We never met then, did we?" 

"No," Carlson said. 

"Of course, we didn't have much to do with the American 
Marines," Chou said. "We used to see them marching down the 
streets trying to frighten us." 

Carlson changed the subject, for he was a little ashamed of his 
attitude toward the Chinese in 1927, and he didn't want Chou 
En-lai or Agnes Smedley to question him. He was proud of his new 
maturity. He did not want to explain his own growth, the slow de- 
velopment of his ideas. 

That night in his diary, Carlson wrote : 

26 March 1938 

Tonight I went to a dinner party with Chou En-lai, Agnes, 
Po Ku (once Chairman of the Northwest Soviet), and Li Po. 
Agnes raved about newspaper correspondents who send home 
inaccurate dispatches. Chou listened quietly for a long time, 
apparently paying no attention, then sat up, cupped his chin 
in his hand and said softly, "If journalists always published 
accurate accounts of current events, there would be no need 
for the historians." 

Ten days later, he visited the battlefield of Taierchwang still warm 
with the dead. 

7 April 1938 

I will never forget this day. We went on an inspection of 
the area just held by the Japanese. Destruction and desolation 
were everywhere. Dead bodies, dead horses, dogs, ducks 
At one place lay the body of a woman with a child in her 
abdomen. At another place was the body of a peasant, two 
dead ducks lying near. I have not seen such destruction since 
France, Shanghai not excepted. Joris Ivens presented me with 
a diary of a Jap soldier with a bullet hole clean through it. 
At about 5:30 P.M. we returned to Hq. in the city for tea 

At Wii Tai the Ta 

Vront it'jl to right: ( icwral Nirh Yong-'ilit-ti oigani/er of ihr>|xi region lor tlir Sth Army; liie 1'u 1-iiina; 

Captain K. F. Carkon. / l/i<" m/r /r; //ir / Gtncral \'ich: Dr. 

of the Canadian Churcli Mission, assistant to 

Dr. Norman Jkihitfir 

in his at 


and Japanese biscuits. Then we set out for the front some 
two miles north of Taierchwang. I shall not soon forget this 
walk. Three Chinese Generals and I walked abreast down the 
road, they singing a Chinese patriotic song, I trying to learn 
it and humming it. They were in high spirits as a result of the 
victory. We were walking into a magnificent sunset. Ahead 
an armored train was silhouetted against the setting sun. 
Behind us was a charred city and around us were Chinese 
soldiers preparing to retire for the night in their dugouts. 

The History Today boys and I found a barn to spend the 
night in, and we sang songs of all our countries. 

It was a great day and a sad one. 

The "History Today" boys, a group of camera men, were Joris 
Ivens, a dark, energetic Hollander, who is one of the greatest docu- 
mentary film makers in the world, John Ferno, another Hollander, 
and Robert Capa, who had made magnificent camera studies of the 
Spanish fight for independence, and was now working for Life. 
With them was Israel Epstein of the United Press. They had lain 
on the dry, bitter-smelling straw, talking of China and Spain, when 
Carlson took out his old harmonica and softly blew a few melan- 
choly chords. The last time he had played was Christmas Eve at 
Chu Teh's headquarters. 

Carlson played some American songs. Ivens and Ferno sang some 
Dutch working songs; Capa took the stage with a lonesome sound- 
ing Hungarian peasant tune; and Epstein, not to be outdone, came 
forth with a rousing Polish march. Before the songfest was finished, 
they joined together to sing Chcc Lai, the great song of the Chinese 

Everyone who works for freedom is crying, 
"Arise! Arise! Arise!" 
All of us with one heart, 
With the torch of freedom, 
March on! 

A week later he was back in Hankow where he met his senior 
officer, Commander Overesch, who told him that he could remain 
as an observer as long as his health could stand it. 

Again he made the rounds of conferences and dinners. He talked 


with the British Ambassador, Sir Archibald Clark-Kerr, who with 
extraordinary modesty presented a letter of introduction from Ed- 
gar Snow. He talked with Captain Frank Dorn and Colonel Joseph 
Stilwell of the War Department. "Pinkie" Dorn was a quiet, sensi- 
tive man, an artist, but Stilwell was a scientist. His mind and his 
face were one, firm, knotted, realistic and skeptical. Like a laboratory 
technician, he despised theory and obeyed facts. He twisted Carl- 
son's memory for hours to get out of him what he had seen, and 
he was impressed by the flexibility and ingenuity of the Red guer- 

"It looks to me," Stilwell said dryly, "that the success of the Reds 
against a more powerful enemy is the Red officers' habit of saying, 
'Come on, boys/ instead of 'Go on, boys.' " 

He and Carlson talked over their own future as observers. The 
Chinese were fighting a strenuous battle at Hsuchowfu, and Stilwell 
indicated that he was going there. 

"There's no point to having two American observers," Carlson 
remarked. "You go to Hsuchowfu, and I'll go up to Sian and then 
to Yenan. I want to learn more about the Northwest." 

They agreed to divide the war. 


John did baptize . . . 

From a letter home: 

jo April 1938 

After a lapse of two months I am back here, ready for an- 
other jaunt. I'm afraid I've neglected you all lately. I spent 
three weeks of March writing my report, 


One of the major sacrifices that goes with my work is the 
failure to get news from home. Letters are a long time coming 

I picked up a few good books at Hankow. "Education of 
Henry Adams" and Irving's Sketchbook. Always I have my 
Emerson. And for your particular information, Dad, I carry 
a copy of the New Testament. 

Have come to be quite good friends with Bishop Logan 
H. Roots, Anglican Episcopal. We have wonderful chats. 
Fort Logan H. Roots in Arkansas was named for his uncle. 

I haven't forgotten you all. I'm ashamed of myself for not 

In Sian the end of April he sent his card over to General Chiang 
T'ing-wen, the Governor of the area and Chiang Kai-shek's ap- 
pointee. The General requested Carlson to call on him. 

Chiang T'ing-wen had a reputation as a Red eater. He hated 
them, had killed as many as he could in the Civil War, and had 
purchased the enmity of many of his own people by his ruthless- 
ness. He greeted Carlson cordially, hiding his suspicion of the ad- 
mirer of the guerrillas behind a warm interest in Carlson's health. 

"I have been afraid for you, Ts'an Tsan," he said. "It isn't every- 
body who has the stamina to march as much as you have. After all, 
we Chinese are used to it." 

Carlson smiled. 

"I hear you are one of the few foreigners who think that we will 
beat the Jap." 

Carlson smiled again. 

Chiang T'ing-wen tried another tack. "You are seeing a great 
deal of war. But not enough, eh? Is that why you are back here?" 


"And where now do you propose to see more?" 

"I want to go up to Yenan to observe the organization which 
Mao Tse-tung has up there. And then I want to go into Mongolia. 
The Japanese say that their control is supreme in the occupied areas 
of Shensi, Chahar, Hopei and Shantung. From what I have seen, 
I don't believe them. On the contrary, I believe that the Chinese 


partisans as well as organized armies have considerable control over 
these provinces. But the world doesn't know that. If I see this for 
myself, I'll be in a position to testify to the truth." 

The General looked at Carlson wonderingly. 

"But such a trip is extremely dangerous," he remonstrated. "Why 
do you do it ? Why is it important to you to inform the world as to 
its ignorance about our war?" 

Carlson relates in his diary that when the General asked him this 
question, he was unable to reply for a moment. 

I had not stopped to examine the urge which prompted 
these expeditions, being conscious only of trying to place my 
finger on the key elements of this conflict. But now I realized 
that behind the desire to fulfill an official duty there was a 
deeper urge. 

And then slowly he told the General that he had come from a 
country where ordinary people as well as their leaders regarded 
liberty and equality as inalienable rights. "We've had a Revolution 
and a Civil War for them. In the Chinese people I have seen this 
same love of liberty and equality, and I am convinced from what 
I have seen that they are ready to sacrifice comfort, homes, and 
their lives so that their children, at least, will enjoy these rights. 
My country, the United States, can't take sides in your war, Gen- 
eral. Not now. Not this year perhaps. Maybe not for a couple of 
years. It will come, I'm sure. But until that time I, as one American, 
can see how you resist the invader, and make my report to the 
world. The risk is one which any of my countrymen would gladly 

He realized as he finished that he had not intended so melo- 
dramatic and sentimental a speech. He had wanted merely to speak 
out his heart and this is what had come. But these concepts, 
equality and liberty, budded into his life from the very beginning, 
had now borne a spirit that would not be denied. 

Chiang T'ing-wen was quiet after Carlson spoke, almost in a 
reverie, and then, to Carlson's amazement, tears came into the 
General's eyes. 


"Ts'an Tsan," General Chiang said huskily, "I had no idea that 
any American understood us so well, and what we fight for. I 
approve your trip. I will see that passes are given you, and I will 
personally write letters of introduction to my Generals in Yulin and 
Inner Mongolia." 

He made the two-day trip from Sian to Yenan in an open truck 
with a Miss Jean Ewen, a nurse from Vancouver, British Columbia, 
who had spent five years working in a Catholic mission in Shantung, 
and had then volunteered to work with Dr. Norman Bethune for 
the Eighth Route Army. With them were several Chinese students 
on their way to study at one of the Yenan training schools. These 
students were part of the flood of young people from every province 
in China who gave up comfortable homes and modern universities 
to make the pilgrimage to the new Mecca, there to study under 
leaders and teachers who, fabulous to the Chinese car, were neither 
slaves of opium, bribery or personal aggrandizement. 

Yenan had been the capital of the Provisional Central Govern- 
ment of the Soviet Republic of China. But after the Sian incident 
when the Communists, in order to make the United Front work- 
able, dissolved the Soviets and subordinated the Red Army to the 
National Government, Yenan became the headquarters of a pro 
tempore Border Government consisting of the three provinces of 
Shensi, Ninghsia and Kansu. This Border Government, highly in- 
fluenced by the Communists who kept the central office of their 
party in Yenan, proclaimed itself a democracy, and gave to the 
people, "without regard to classes," Edgar Snow reported, "the 
right to elect officials the first attempt of this kind ever made 
in China." 10 

In Yenan, the United Front worked. Although subsurface ten- 
sions existed and made co-operation difficult Communist officials 
worked with Kuomintang officials and with old war lords who, 
loving their power, reluctantly submitted to the expedient of a 
new way of things. No anti-Japanese party was banned. But in 
Hankow and Chungking the United Front was more a name than 

10 The Battle for Asia, by Edgar Snow (New York: Random House, 


a fact, for in the Central Government areas, Communists, as Edgar 
Snow reported, were rigidly excluded from the army, public office 
and participation in the general civilian mobilization. 

More than that, nearly all Chinese progressives had been sup- 
pressed, works like Carmen, novels of Gorki and Remain Holland 
were prohibited, and the free speech of anti-Japanese expression 
was restricted. It is no wonder then that Chinese students who were 
outspokenly passionate in their hatred of the invader should prefer 
the openness of Yenan with all its primitiveness, its caves for 
schools and dormitories, its paltry diet of millet and rice. They 
understood what old Lu Hsun, China's great writer, meant when 
he said to them, "The road to Yenan is for China's youth the road 
to life." 

Yenan, then: a city of 25,000 in the desert land of northern 
Shensi, cupped by grassless yellow mountains and pitted with 
ancient and newly made caves. Nym Wales describes Yenan in the 
late afternoons when the desert atmosphere reflects every sound. 
She could hear the cries of the goat herders mixed with the shouts 
of soldiers at bayonet practice, the cheers of spectators at a basket- 
ball game and the strains of the American song, "Dixie," to which 
some unnamed Chinese versifier had put stirring words for action. 11 

His first night in Yenan Carlson wrote his diary in a cave, high 
on a cliff which had recently been vacated by Dr. Norman Bethune. 

5 May, 1938 

Yenan is a city of caves. Three valleys come together here. 
When more space is needed to accommodate the growing 
student bodies, they dig out a few more caves. The town has 
a friendly air. There are more tung-hsis (little hors d'oeuvre - 
pastries) for sale than I expected. 

I sent my letters of introduction to Mao Tse-tung by one of 
his staff, and at 7 P.M. word came around that Mao was ready 
to receive me. 

11 From Inside Red China, by Nym Wales (New York: Doubleday, 
Doran, 1939). Nym Wales's book surpasses all others including Ed- 
gar Snow's, her husband's in the detail with which it describes the 
life in Yenan in those days. 


Who was Mao Tse-tung? If Chu Teh, the ex-war lord, can be 
considered the Reds' strong right arm, and Chou En-lai, the scion 
of Mandarins, the skilled conspirator and negotiator, then in these 
overly simplified terms, Mao Tse-tung, who came from the 
peasantry, can be described as the intellect, the dialectician, the 
scholar who grew out of grass roots. Like the others, this Lincoln- 
esque man of 45 had a gentle tongue and a mild manner and was, 
as far as Carlson could see, utterly without pretense. In 1911, when 
he was 18, Mao saw his first map of the world, and discovered at 
the same time its humanitarian and scientific contours when he read 
Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, and Darwin's Origin of 
Species, and books of John Stuart Mill, Rousseau and Spencer. In 
1920, after a meeting to celebrate the third anniversary of the Russian 
Revolution had been broken up by the police, he read The Com- 
munist Manifesto, the first Marxist book ever published in Chinese. 
The next year, at about the time that Chu Teh in Berlin joined the 
German branch of the Chinese Communist party, and Chou En-lai 
in Paris joined its French branch, Mao Tse-tung became one of its 
founders in Shanghai. His history, after that, paralleled the others; 
membership in the Kuomintang, of which he was one of the 
Central Committee; then the period of hiding and organizing the 
first units of the Red Army, after the 1927 split between the 
Kuomintang and the Communists, the resistance against Chiang 
Kai-shek's anti-Red campaigns, the Long March of 6,000 miles, 
up to Yenan in Shensi province, and finally the war against the 
Japanese. 12 

Carlson described Mao's office in his book: 

"The pale light of the single candle which lit the room in which 
Mao worked, the simple furnishings of a k'ang, a wooden table and 
a few shelves of books, and perhaps above all the abstract air of Mao, 
himself, gave the atmosphere a quality of otherworldliness." 

"Welcome, Ts'an Tsan," Mao Tse-tung said in a low voice. "I've 
heard of your wanderings with our armies and I'm glad to welcome 
you here." 

12 Mao Tse-tung's biography, as well as Chu Teh's and Chou En-lai's, 
are brilliantly set down in Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China. 


They shook hands warmly. 

"I must apologize for asking you to come over at night," Mao 
said. "I sleep by day and night's my time for feeling alive." 

For a while they talked of personalities, Chu Teh, Chou En-lai, 
General Chiang T'ing-wen and the Generalissimo, during which 
time tea and peanuts were brought in by a guard. 

Then began the real talk, the talk for which Carlson had come, 
the talk by which he sounded the mettle of the man. Much of their 
conversation which, it must be remembered, took place in 1938, 
dealt with prophesies and analyses now, in some part, outdated. 
Mao Tse-tung, of course, predicted that Japan and the United 
States would one day go to war, but his guesses as to its terrain 
and duration were far from the mark, for he could not foresee that 
the atomic bomb would do away with an American landing on the 
China coast. 

Carlson said that he thought Britain would fight if Germany 
invaded Czechoslovakia; Mao Tse-tung emphatically disagreed, a 
point of view which five months later was confirmed by the be- 
trayal at Munich. 

"How long will China resist?" Carlson asked, assuming that she 
would have to continue her struggles alone. 

"China," Mao said, "is like a gallon jug which Japan is trying to 
fill with a half pint of liquid. When her troops move into one sec- 
tion, we move into another . . . and when they pursue us, we 
move back again." 

Mao filled his pipe with some dried, stringy, yellow Chinese 
tobacco, and Carlson made a note to send him some American kind. 

"What are the plans," Carlson asked, "of the Chinese Communist 
party for the postwar period?" 

The Chinese took a long time answering, for Communists are 
notorious for their reluctance to speculate on the future. He rose 
from his chair and stalked up and down the room puffing his pipe 

"It's hard to tell," Mao said finally. "As you know, we do not 
think that Communism can come to China right away. It's a long 
way off. Our immediate goal is democracy in China, but a real one, 


with actions, not words. We shall never come to blows with Chiang 
Kai-shek and the Kuomintang over the issue of Communism or 
Socialism. If we differ, it will be over the issue of a genuine people's 
government in China. We hope to keep the United Front with the 
Kuomintang. We are for a two-party government. We believe that 
the state should own the banks, the mines and should reduce taxes, 
interest rates and rentals. We're for the development of producer 
and consumer co-operatives, though we have no objection to private 
enterprise. And, of course, we are for friendly relations with all 
foreign powers on a basis of equality. Those are our immediate 
hopes, for which we will fight. They are not, as I said before, 
Communism. But they are the requisites for a united China and 
for peace among us and for a chance to rehabilitate our country. 
Communism will come in China some day. But we are not ready 
for it now." 

Carlson hurriedly put down the words in his notebook. He felt 
that there was nothing very radical about Mao's proposals. Most 
of China's banks, mines and communications were already owned 
by the government, in part or whole. In his own country, the co- 
operative movement had many followers, and many who thought it 
might be the answer to the conflict between capital and labor. As 
for the friendly foreign relations, no one, at home, could disagree. 
The Communism that would come? If the people of China desired 
it, it was their lives, their fate, their future to be determined as they 
wished. His own beliefs were that a genuine democracy in which 
none were exploited for the enrichment of a few was the most 
powerful system in the world. None could surpass or conquer it. 

"What about America?" Carlson inquired. "Have we helped 
the Chinese people?" 

"Yes," said Mao firmly. "You and the Soviet Union have helped 
us more than any other nations." Then he paused and took his pipe 
out of his mouth and looked down at the dancing candle flame. 
"Yet, according to our figures and your own government's figures, 
you have provided Japan with over half of the war materials she 
purchases abroad." 

Carlson was stunned. He asked Mao to repeat what he had said, 


and for the second time, he shook his head as if someone had hit 
him hard. The otherworldliness of the dim cave he had felt earlier 
in the evening came back to him. Mao's words had shattered an 
outer rampart of Carlson's self-respect. 

"Have you the figures here?" he demanded sharply. 

"No, but our Embassy in Washington has them." 

"It isn't possible!" Carlson said stubbornly. "Our people are 
sympathetic to China." 

"People frequently are so blinded by the sun of profits," Mao said 
slowly, "that their eyes see neither their country nor themselves." 

Carlson was outraged. Mao Tse-tung's remonstrance rang in 
his head like a tuning fork. 

When he left Mao Tse-tung's cave dawn was breaking over the 
yellow hills. Confusion within him spoiled the beauty of the scene. 
To Mao he had replied with big, empty words. He had spoken of 
the slowness with which the will of the majority in a democracy 
shows itself. But the answer had been inadequate. 

He stalked angrily down the hill toward the town. His muscles 
ached with rage. A pride he had never known he possessed had 
been humbled. His dignity and self-esteem as an American had 
been hurt. 

"Am I such an innocent, such an ignoramus," Carlson thought 
painfully, "that I don't know what's going on in my own country?" 

"Slow, Evans, slow," he warned himself. "You haven't been in 
your country since this war started. You haven't read your own news- 
papers and magazines." 

"But if Mao's right, how shameful!" 

When he returned to his own living place, he couldn't sleep, 
though he had been up the whole night. He looked around for 
something to read and laid out the books he had brought with him. 
There were Emerson and the booklets of the British Three-Penny 
Library; and there was his copy of the New Testament. He had 
bought it because on his earlier trip to Shensi and Wu T'ai Shan 
he had seen a resemblance between the practices of the Eighth Route 
Army and the doctrines of Christ. He had planned to read the four 
gospels systematically and compare them with the life around him. 


He had never had the time, and now he opened to Mark and read 
aloud by the light of the morning coming in through the open 

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as 
it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before 
thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one 
crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make 
His paths straight.' " 

But Mao was probably right. And if he was right ? What then ? 

"John did baptize in the wilderness . . ." 

He tried to read further but the question kept repeating itself 
against the words. If Mao was right, what then? 

But Mao was right! He would not lie. Of course he was telling 
the truth. 

And when Carlson faced himself with that, he became consumed 
by a gigantic guilt rising in him like a malarial fever. Here he was, 
traveling with the underarmed and undernourished Chinese armies, 
raising money for their sick and wounded, and within the limit of 
his position and often beyond it, committing his sympathy, by word 
and action, to their cause, when his own America, whose democracy 
he had described so often and so passionately to the Chinese as 
worthy of their emulation, was proven to be divided, shortsighted 
and greedy. This contradiction sickened him, for he felt personally 
responsible for his country's evil. 

How could he stand aside and wash his hands of it? His duties as 
a citizen and a soldier prevented him. How could he draw a line 
between himself and his blind profit-hungry fellow Americans ? Had 
he not told the Chinese he talked to that every citizen in a de- 
mocracy shares in its deeds, good or evil? 

That morning, oppressed by his guilt and wanting confirmation 
one way or another, he wrote letters to President Roosevelt and to 
his father. Was it true that Americans were supplying Japan with 
arms and the materials of war? he asked. Who condoned them? 
Who condemned? 


But before replies could come to him at Sian, he was on his way 
again to the front. 


The growing guilt 


14 May 

I am going North soon. Met the five boys who are going 
with me. Liu, the oldest, about 29, is a novelist; Auyung, the 
son of an actor, is a dramatist. He has a beautiful singing voice 
and can speak English. Lin San is a poet and looks like one, 
Ching is a journalist and as practical and down to earth as any 
Downcast Yankee I've ever known. He's even got that kind 
of wry, twangy humor. Wang is the youngest. He's a camera- 
man, and until recently he was completely disinterested in 
politics. But he fell in love with a girl-student and followed 
her to Yenan. He is now learning the facts of life, politically 
as well as otherwise. 

75 May 

Today we left Yenan. Our truck broke down 30 miles out- 
side of the city, and we spent the night there. Auyung plays 
the harmonica. 

And so it went, through the provinces of Shensi and Suiyuan, 
and into the Yellow River country of Inner Mongolia, and south 
again through Hopei and Shantung and Anhwei. May went by and 
June and July, and his mind and his heart and his diary were filled 
with the scene, the people, and the struggle. And, as in his earlier 
trip, he learnt more of the people of China. He slept in their houses 
and barns and marched with them, doctored them and shared their 
food. He listened quietly while peasants and soldiers, Kuomintang 


and Communist, regular and partisan, spoke. And he listened to 
their generals, the Manchurian, the Eighth Route Army, the Na- 
tionalist. He asked questions of them all, and of the Tibetan Great 
Lama and the Living Buddha who had their own partisan anti- 
Japanese groups. He observed the military schools where young 
men trained with spears and staffs for want of any other weapon. 
He visited the hospitals, and cried within him at their poverty. He 
talked with Japanese prisoners and learnt their military life; he 
studied battles with the men and the leaders who had fought them. 
He heard the opinions of Spanish padres and Lutheran ministers 
and Franciscan Brothers from California who were seeding souls in 
the back wastes of China and harvesting them only when their own 
lives and acts merited it. 

He shared everything with the Chinese, even their diseases, for 
he became sick with dysentery and trachoma and relapsing fever. 

And with him as he went stalked the growing guilt. He had not 
heard answers from home to his letters of inquiry. And he found 
that he could no longer talk to the Chinese so glibly about America 
and her help. 

Finally the confirmation of Mao's accusation came to him. He 
was in the little Hopei town of Nanking, and he was talking to a 

"We like Americans," the soldier said. "But why do you help 
our enemies?" 

"How do we help them?" Carlson demanded. 

"You give them war materials, Ts'an Tsan!" 

"How do you know?" 

"I have seen it." 


"In a newspaper." 

"What paper?" 

"Your own." 

"Show it to me!" 

The soldier nodded and took out of his pocket a torn, sweat- 
greasy clipping, and gave it to Carlson with the gesture of a prosecu- 
tor handing over the key exhibit of his evidence. Carlson read it. 


It was an AP dispatch from an American newspaper. It had the 
facts. We were sending to Japan over half the war supplies she re- 
ceived from abroad. 

"Can you read this it's in English?" Carlson asked. 

"No, Ts'an Tsan. But I know what it says." 

Yes, the soldier knew what it said; and so had Mao Tse-tung and 
so also Chu Teh and Chiang Kai-shek. They all had known it, but 
not he. What sublime and ridiculous innocence! How ignorant this 
citizen had been! 

Yet, he had a rootlike faith that President Roosevelt did not 
condone these men; and that there were other Americans, like 
Henry L. Stimson, who fought against them. In Carlson's mind it 
came down to a question of the ignorance of his fellow citizens. 
They, as he, did not know the facts. They were uninformed. And 
a democracy was capable of great evil when its citizens did not 
know the truth. 

When he had thought of these things, he made a vow that he 
would bring the truth to his fellow countrymen. It was his duty, 
when he returned to the States, to tell all who would listen what he 
had learnt in China. He would persuade with fact and figures and 
the unalterable statistics of his personal experience. His countrymen 
must learn where evil lay, and where justice and their own future 
security lay. 

He would not let anything stand in his way. 

On August 7, seventy-seven days after he left Yenan, he returned 
to beleaguered Hankow, found a place to stay in a Lutheran mis- 
sion, found that all his mail sent to him via the Embassy had moved 
with it to Chungking. He sought out Americans, Mac Fisher of 
the Associated Press, Tillman Durdin of the New Yorf^ Times and 
Arch Steele of the Chicago Daily News. They gathered in his little 
room in the mission. 

Carlson asked a question. "Do you fellows know that we're 
supplying the Japs with most of their war stuff?" 

The newsmen knew. 

"It's a shameful thing, isn't it?" 


They agreed, perhaps a little wonderingly, for Carlson seemed 
blazing with anger. 

"It's got to stop!" he said. 

And with the characteristic weariness of men who have seen too 
much of the world, they said it had to stop but they'd be damned if 
they knew how. And then they hastened to ask Carlson questions. 
What were the Reds doing? Was there order in the areas they con- 
trolled? Did they get on well with Kuomintang? And then they 
came to the big question : Did the Japs control all that they said they 

And Carlson told them! He quibbled with nothing. He gave them 
all he knew. Manchukuoan troops were deserting to join the anti- 
Japanese Manchurian leader, General Ma Chan-shan. The Eighth 
Route Army guerrillas were crossing Jap lines with ease, issuing 
their own money, conducting their own schools, maintaining their 
own small arsenals. "The Japs possess nothing outside of the ground 
they stand on literally; a few cities, railroad and highway junctions, 
and county market towns." 

"This is terrific," Fisher said. "In the States everyone thinks 
the Japs have really conquered North China." 

"They think so even in Hankow." 

"The Japs don't have a chance in China," Carlson said. "If we'd 
stop putting guns in Jap hands." 

"And scrap steel in their mills," Fisher said. 

"Is it your considered judgment, Captain," Steele asked, "that 
the Japs really don't hold those four so-called conquered provinces 
of Shensi, Hopci, Shantung and Suiyuan?" 

"Hell, Arch. The only Japs I saw were prisoners. Here's my route 
map. I lived in these towns and cities. You can see for yourself." 

"If only the people back home knew it," Durdin said. 

"Evans, it's a shame we can't quote you on this," Fisher said. 
"Every time we get a good story it's off the record." 

"Off the record!" Carlson exclaimed. "Off the record nothing. 
I want the States to know what's going on here. I want 'em to know 
the truth. You can quote me!" 

Excited by the break, the correspondents started writing down 


their notes, getting direct quotes from Carlson, checking up on the 

On August 9, the Chicago Daily News ran a special radio dispatch 
with Arch Steele's by-line. 

Japan Controls North China Only As Far As 
Guns Reach y U.S. Officer Says After Visit 

The story spoke of the complete ineffectiveness of Japanese con- 
trol in North China which was "demonstrated in a remarkable 
fashion by an officer of the United States Marine Corps." 

On the same day the New Y0r^ Times ran Tillman Durdin's 
wirelessed report. 


Capt. E. F. Carlson of U.S. 
Marines Makes 2,000- 
Mile Trip, Much 
of It Afoot 


Officer Says the Chinese Have 

Arsenals, Factories, Bank 

of Issue and Schools 

And the Connecticut papers, including Plymouth's, ran the AP 
story, and it was the first word Tom and Joetta Carlson had of 
their son since April when they received his letter from Sian. 

Time on the twenty-second, calling Carlson "tall, bristly-haired, 
up and coming," gave his story two columns and ran a picture of 
him and Chu Teh. 

It is not possible to say who protested Carlson's story first, the 
Japanese Foreign Minister in Tokyo to our Mr. Joseph C. Grew, or 
the Japanese Ambassador in Washington to our Mr. Cordell Hull. 
At any rate, word reached the Navy Department that Carlson had 
talked out of turn, and the Japanese didn't like it. But, for the 
moment, the Navy Department did nothing. 

Carlson, in Hankow, knew nothing of this. He kept on talking 
to whomever he met, especially to the members of what was called 


"The Hankow Last Ditchers' Club." This unofficial group was not 
really a club but rather an atmosphere, a hail-fellow bravado in the 
face of a city doomed to die. It consisted of journalists from all 
countries and foreign observers who were their friends. During the 
months of August and September when each day might bring the 
Japanese into the city, they met and talked and drank and exchanged 
sentimental farewells to each other as, one by one, they left Hankow. 
Each, of course, had vowed to be the last of the Last Ditchers but 
their home offices and their duties decided otherwise. Among its 
members were Walter Bosshard, a Swiss journalist, two American 
newsreel men, George Krainaikov and Eric Mayell, and George 
Hogg, blooming fresh from Oxford, who was to die of malnutrition 
and lack of medical attention in 1945 while working for the Chinese 
Industrial Co-operatives in the interior. There was Life photog- 
rapher Robert Capa, Carlson's old comrade from the Taicrchwang 
battle, and the American correspondents, Richard Watts, Victor 
Keen, Jack Belden, Arch Steele, Tillman Durdin, Mac Fisher, 
Yates McDaniel. Agnes Smedley, who was working with the Red 
Cross, was one of the prime organizers of The Last Ditchers 
literally the last of them, and its only woman member until Freda 
Utley, who hated both the Japanese and the Soviets, arrived. Oc- 
casionally, some temporary members flew in and left after a few 
days, Edgar Snow and John and Frances Gunther, Edgar A. Mowrer 
and Vernon Bartlett from England. 

As kind of ex officio members were the staffs of the embassies 
and men like Stilwell, who even then was called "Vinegar Joe," 
and "Pinkie" Dorn, the American Consul General, Paul Josselyn, 
and Rear Admiral Le Breton of the American Yangtze Patrol. 

Carlson literally had the press of the world with him in the 
Last Ditchers. And he did not let the .chance go by. He admired these 
men. And he knew now why he had wanted for so long to be a 
writer. Who else was there who could inform the people of the 
world so well? 

To live in Hankow in those days, Carlson felt, was like watching 
at the bedside of a dying friend. Man's disease of war was choking 


out the life of the city. Every day there were air raids, and every 
day more death and dying, more ruins, more refugees. The small 
band of the Last Ditchers were passengers on a sinking ship. Agnes 
Smedley described how they drew close together, searching each 
other's hearts and minds for the best way of life: 

Our old values seemed to vanish and we lost regard for 
material things, for no one knew whether there would be a 
tomorrow. ... In the tense atmosphere of war even poetry, 
song and wit blossomed among us and a magical glow shone 
over our friendship. 13 

Carlson saw Chiang Kai-shek again, and again he pleaded for 
help for the Eighth Route Army and the partisan and guerrilla 
groups. He told him what Mao Tse-tung had said were the Com- 
munist postwar demands. 

"How do they compare with your ideas, Generalissimo?" Carlson 

"Ch'a pu tor Chiang Kai-shek replied. "About the same." 

But no help was forthcoming. 

Carlson felt depressed again. There was too much suspicion of 
the Reds. Too many authoritarian elements in the Kuomintang. If 
victory came, and the Reds did not give up everything, civil war 
would follow. And, he asked himself, if he were a Chinese Com- 
munist would he give up everything? Would he give up his fight 
for lower taxes, lower interest rates? Would he give up his army 
which had been shaped from the people's passion for independence 
and a better living as long as there were other autonomous armies 
in China headed by dictators, backward provincial leaders, old 
hankerers after long-lost feudal rights? He'd be damned if he 

Civil war seemed inevitable unless Chiang Kai-shek willed it not 
to be. It was he alone who had the strength to break the boycott 
against supplies to the Eighth Route Army. He alone could dissolve 
the mutual distrust by the deed of recognizing who were the 

13 Battle Hymn of China, by Agnes Smedley. (New York: Alfred 
Knopf, 1943.) 


enemies of his people and who their friends. Sian had taught him 
something. But Carlson wondered whether it had taught him 

Carlson's time was running out. There were more interviews, 
more dispatches. 

His friends warned him that he'd get into trouble. He did not 
disregard them. He wanted to avoid it. He was a Marine officer, 
accustomed to discipline, ambitious to win the approval of his seniors 
and of Washington. 

And yet, by God, he would argue, the people at home must be 
informed. Some one in authority must tell them. No one else had 
seen what he had. A man had a responsibility not only to himself. 
Did he take democracy to mean something real or was he just 
fooling around with words? 


"You'll starve to death!" 

The seventeenth of September was just another day in the slow 
dying of Hankow; more Japanese air raids, more streets packed 
with corpses, more government officials moving out to Chungking. 
In the foreign cocktail bars and sports clubs, it was just another 
day too. People lunched, drank, made dates for dancing that eve- 
ning, exchanged business references, signed contracts. 

On that day, Carlson received a dispatch from his immediate 
senior, Commander Harry Overesch: 



That night, Carlson wrote in his diary: 

Received rather a nasty radio from Overesch today, saying 
that any future references to me in the press would be my 
responsibility regardless whether or not they were authenti- 
cated. At first, I was inclined to ignore the implication, and to 
outline to him another trip I had planned. On second thought 
it seemed too serious to let pass. It means that any third party 
reference to me can bring me disciplinary action. 

I am tired of attempting to adjust my action to the arbitrary 
whims of a superior officer. Self-preservation seems to be the 
first thought of an officer of the U.S. Army or Navy. His whole 
training tends to accentuate that inclination. As a result he in- 
evitably takes the short view of things, considering each prob- 
lem in terms of his personal economic security. He will take 
no action which may jeopardize his career. He is continually 
thinking about the next selection board, and of how his 
superiors in Washington will consider the decisions and ac- 
tions he has taken. Consequently, it seems to be indicated that 
I should separate myself from the service if I am to continue to 
think and act in accordance with my own convictions. With 
this in mind, I today sent in my resignation to the Secretary of 
Navy, via the Naval Attache at Peiping. 

It is quite a wrench to break the association of so many years. 
I might retire, but the Naval restrictions would continue to 
apply should I remain on the retired list. No, resignation is my 
only solution. 

Although he put his act on the high plane of principle, beneath 
was considerable emotional struggle. There was first his pride which 
had been considerably shaken. He felt that he was no longer trusted 
by his superiors, and to a man who takes himself and his work 
seriously this was unbearable and considered by him an attack on 
his integrity. Second, the military life which had satisfied at least 
one of the requirements of his personality in the past his need for 
discipline no longer seemed capable of continuing this. In 1922, 
when he had decided to join the Marines, he had few convictions 
about himself and about how he wanted to use his life. Military 
discipline then seemed security and a strong crutch in an unstable 


world. But now that he knew exactly what he wanted to do, now that 
he had an overwhelming conviction about himself, military dis- 
cipline became oppressive, a Moloch of narrow-minded dictation 
from above. 

Yet with all this there was his career to consider. He had a dis- 
tinguished record, China and Nicaragua. Tommy Holcomb, the 
Commandant, admired him. Franklin Roosevelt had confidence in 
him. If he kept his health, he would go far. Even now, he was high 
on the captains' list, would soon be major. With the war, which he 
knew was inevitable, he would go up even faster. He might get a 
regiment, then a division. There was no uncertainty in his own mind 
that he would get a general's stars before his sun was set. 

He had twenty-five years of service in the armed forces. Twenty- 
five years of living a kind of life which, whatever failings it had 
and with whatever frustrations it had brought him, had been his only 
life. He had few friends outside it; he had no interests beyond it; 
he had no way of making a livelihood away from it. 

Agnes Smedley whom he had expected to approve his decision 
to resign was frightened. 

"You're crazy, Evans," she said. "You're naive. You're innocent. 
You don't know anything about the capitalist system. Do you think 
it has any use for men of principle? You won't get a job. You'll 
starve to death!" 

He bucked under her words. "Don't plague me with starving, 
Agnes! The only thing I'm worried about is whether I'm doing the 
right thing? Am I?" 

"Yes," Smedley said. 

"Then that's enough." 

Smedley warned him that his would be a bitter life. 

"You have lived it, haven't you?" Carlson said. 

"Yes, but that's different. Look at me an outcast, never certain 
from one day to the next of my living." 

"If you can do it, I can," Carlson said angrily. Then he added: 
"Don't insult me." 

Sure, he was afraid he wouldn't get a job. He was not that naive. 
He worried whether he'd even have a chance to say his say about 


China. Who would listen to him? How could he get an audience? 

He would write a book. That was certain. He would tell his story 
and get it published if he had to publish it and sell the book him- 
self on the street corners. His father had once told him that decent 
principles were not enough. A man had to have the courage to live 
by them. 

But he didn't want to permit himself to think of security. Am I 
right? he had asked. 

Was it important for his country to know what was happening in 

It was important. 


Because war with Japan was coming, and China would be our 

Something must be done to bring light to Americans. They must 
know who their friends are. They must stop helping their enemy. 
He had made a vow that he would tell them and let nothing stand 
in his way, not his own career, nor his own chances of starving. 
Agnes with all her fervor did not have his confidence in the Ameri- 
can people. He believed in them. God in heaven, he believed in them. 
They would see the right; they would act on it. Slowly, to be sure. 
Confusedly, contradictorily. But they would see the right. Agnes had 
been hurt too deeply by only one segment of American life. He had 
not been hurt yet. He knew only the great tradition. "I will 
not equivocate!" Had he ever forgotten that time in Boston at 
Garrison's statue? Well, he would not equivocate now! 

There was another reason, too, that he resigned and would not ac- 
cept retirement. To retire meant that he would be living on three- 
quarters pay for his rank. He could be accused of living off the gov- 
ernment while attacking some of her policies. That was too doubtful 
a position for him. He wanted his motives to be unassailable, his act 
to be seen purely for what it was. If the people to whom he talked of 
their responsibilities toward China were to be persuaded, they would 
have to have confidence in him. Confidence is given only to men 
who have proven their selflessness. It was Mao Tse-tung's secret, and 
Chu Teh's. 


But it was hard. It would be hard. He hated to give up everything, 
his friends, his life work, his career. He knew that his brother 
Marine officers would find it hard to understand him. They'd con- 
sider him a traitor to the Corps. Comradeship of years, of the field, 
of battle, the deepest comradeship a man can have, would be gone. 
No matter how hard his old friends tried, he'd be fair dead to them, 
for there would be little left to share together. Of course, they would 
defend him against the pipsqueaks in the Corps who would charge 
him with treason, with being a Red, with having gotten the "Moscow 
religion." His friends would defend, but in their hearts they would 
be saying, "Poor old Evans . . . threw his life away." 

That's what Stilwell was saying. 

"I admire what you're doing, Carlson," Vinegar Joe commented. 
"But you're throwing away too much. No Chinese would do for 
our country what you're trying to do for theirs." 

Carlson shook his head, tried to grin, tried to find some light 
reply. He liked Stilwell, admired him. But even he didn't see the 

"I'm not resigning for the sake of the Chinese, Colonel," Carlson 
said awkwardly. He hated talking about motives. "I'm doing it for 
ourselves. I may be wrong, but I think I'm trying to help our stake 
in the world." 

"I respect you for it anyway," was Stilwell's reply. 

Six years later, Stilwell, General in the Army, would remember 
Carlson when it came his turn to decide between his own career and 
his duty to his country. Within a week after his recall from China 
where he had sought to aid all Chinese armies, regardless of politics, 
in their fight against the common enemy, he wrote Carlson a letter 
in which again he acknowledged his admiration and added his ad- 
mission that Carlson had been right. 

Carlson did not forget his father and his home. He knew, with- 
out asking, that his people would approve his act. The old, deeply 
felt ambition to be a success for their sake had vanished. The years 
had laid over the green eagerness to be the rich returned home-town 
boy. His people would think him a success for what he was doing 
now, rather than for what he might be doing in five years from now 


as a famous general. His father and mother would have to say "Yea" 
to his stubborn demand to do what he thought was right. 

According to protocol, Carlson had submitted his resignation to 
Admiral Le Breton (COMYANGPAT), Commander of the Yangtze 
Patrol, to forward to the American Legation, United States Naval 
Attache (ALUSNA) in Peiping. 

That was on the seventeenth. On the eighteenth a dispatch went 
from COMYANGPAT to ALUSNA with a copy to Admiral Harry Yarnell, 
the Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet (CINCAF) : 


Early morning of the nineteenth brought a Shanghai dispatch from 
Admiral Yarnell to Admiral Le Breton, requesting Le Breton to 
withhold action on Carlson pending further instructions. 

Yarnell liked Carlson. He had read his reports; liked them enough 
to send an enthusiastic letter of commendation to the Chief of 
Naval Operations in Washington. He had no idea what was eating 
Carlson. Something big, he decided. Carlson wasn't a youngster to 
go off in a tantrum. He'd have to find out what it was and stop the 
man from leaving the Navy. 

He wrote a dispatch to the Naval Attache at Peiping: 


ALUSNA forwarded Yarnell's request to Admiral Le Breton, who 
showed it to Carlson. 


Carlson was deeply touched by YarnelFs confidence in him. But 
he knew that Yarnell could do nothing to relieve the oppressive 

In his diary for the nineteenth Carlson wrote: 

Today Yarnell held up my resignation. Asked me for a 
reason. I replied both by letter and dispatch that I wished to 
be free to speak and write in accordance with my convictions. 
I thanked him for his thoughtful consideration of me. Overesch 
came through with a half-hearted expression of regret of the 
action I had taken. I have made my decision and will stick to it. 

Carlson's message to Yarnell was carefully worded: 


Yarnell knew at last what was hurting Carlson, and he forwarded 
the resignation to the Secretary of the Navy. He hoped that action 
would not be taken until Carlson came to Shanghai. There might 
still be time to talk him out of it. 

On the twenty-first, the day on which Yarnell reluctantly sent off 
Carlson's resignation to the Secretary of the Navy, the situation was 
made ironic by a dispatch which Overesch in Peiping received 
from Marine Headquarters authorizing him to examine Carlson for 
promotion to Major on his record. This meant that Carlson would 
not have to take any examination. 

Carlson, however, requested that the promotion be suspended. He 
did not want to accept it in view of his resignation. 


On the twenty-third he received his orders to leave Hankow for 
Shanghai, via Chungking. Word passed swiftly that Carlson had 
resigned. Correspondents sent the news back home. They reported 
that Carlson, "bowing to Japanese pressure," had resigned. 

"Everyone here very sympathetic," he noted in his diary. "I do 
not want sympathy. Right now all I want is a release from a situa- 
tion which has become intolerable." 

On the night of the twenty-seventh between air raids, the Hankow 
Last Ditchers had a farewell party for Carlson. They rigged up a 
mock courtroom and charged Carlson with "desertion" of The Last 
Ditchers. Everybody got passably drunk and sentimental. Agnes 
Smedley presented the case for the prosecution, and Mac Fisher of 
the Associated Press, who was trying to defend the "culprit," heard 
himself making a speech that was not excusing the "desertion" but 
rather eulogizing the courage of this Marine officer who was will- 
ingly giving up his "whole god-damned career because the god- 
damned Japs had forced the god-damned State Department to force 
the god-damned Navy Department to force him to keep his mouth 

Carlson expressed himself fully on the subject of the Japanese but 
he defended the State and Navy Departments. What else could they 
do? After all, our policy in the Pacific was to appease the Japanese, 
for we were not ready to go to war over China and we did not yet 
see how our own interests were challenged. It was for this that he 
had resigned, so that he could show us our own interests. He 
predicted that they'd all be together again soon, somewhere. They'd 
all be covering the American-Japanese war, which was as inevitable 
as tomorrow. 

But the serious talk faded against the sentiment, and the farewells 
were sad. The party broke up to the strains of "Auld Lang Syne" 
which was started by a world-weary, completely unsentimental 
American correspondent, who denied ever having a feeling more 
emotional than waiting for his next check. 

The next day, Carlson's last in Hankow, Hollington Tong, Chiang 
Kai-shek's Minister of Information, gave him a dinner. The speeches 


were long and laudatory, full of diplomatic nosegays. Tong pointed 
out that Carlson was one of the few foreigners who believed in 
China's victory. Carlson replied that he himself had derived strength 
from China, that its people had revealed the wonderful dimension 
of the human spirit. Yes, he had confidence in the Chinese, he said. 
"And their leaders," he added, making sure to use the plural. 

On the twenty-ninth of September, the day Mussolini, Daladier, 
Chamberlain and Hitler met at Munich to partition Czechoslovakia, 
Carlson was conducted across the river to Wuchang and thence to 
the lake where he boarded a Chinese National Airways Sikorsky. 
On the lookout for raiding Jap planes, they took off at 5:15 and 
headed west. At Chungking Ambassador Nelson T. Johnson in- 
vited him to stay with him in his new Embassy offices in the Standard 
Oil compound. 

"Carlson," Johnson said when they got talking, "tell me about 
these Chinese Communists. Are they really Reds?" 

"In my opinion, Mr. Ambassador," Carlson replied, "their politi- 
cal doctrines are representative democracy, their economic doctrines 
are the co-operative theory, and only in their social application are 
they Communists, for they place a great deal of emphasis on social 
equality. They are not like the Russian Reds for one simple reason. 
China is not Russia. Each country, they tell me, must move toward 
socialism in its own way, at its own tempo, and with its own 
peculiarities. Russia, for example, had a revolution and then ten 
years afterwards had to reinstall private enterprise for a while. The 
Chinese Reds are not against private enterprise from the very be- 
ginning. They say that's the way it has to be in China. They're 
realistic men. They're not trying to superimpose something un- 
workable. They want a democracy in China, free speech, free press 
and the rest. As an American, that's what I want to keep alive at 
home. I can't help but sympathize with any Chinese who wants it 
in China." 

5 October 

Johnson is a remarkable man and deserves a large place in 
the history of our diplomatic relations with China. Certainly 


no other man of my acquaintance could have handled this 
situation with his judgment, patience and diplomacy. For over 
a year now he has been living under abnormal conditions. He 
saw the Peiping coup (Marco Polo Bridge incident which was 
used by Japan to take Peiping). Then he spent three months 
at Nanking during the heavy bombing. At Hankow he set up 
a provisional Embassy and again went through the suspense 
of frequent air raids. Here at Chungking he is more isolated 
than ever, living on such food as is available locally. Yet there 
is never a word of complaint from him. Other Ambassadors 
cruise around from here to Hongkong and Shanghai. But he 
sticks to his post. His friendship has meant much to me. 

Before leaving Chungking Carlson talked with Dr. H. H. Kung, 
the Generalissimo's brother-in-law and Finance Minister. Kung was 
getting over a malaria attack but he seemed eager to talk, an eager- 
ness coming from a desire to communicate certain ideas to the 
United States without doing it through official diplomatic channels. 
Telling them to Carlson would, in effect, be telling them to Am- 
bassador Johnson, for Kung knew that Carlson would report on 
their conversation. 

Tentatively, barely suggesting, Kung presented his feeling per- 
sonal feeling, mind you that President Roosevelt, whom every- 
body trusted, might be in a position to call a peace conference. Kung 
believed that Japan would welcome such a conference. Naturally the 
Japanese-Chinese war would be on the agenda, the position of 
Manchuria, and so on. It was merely a suggestion, Kung remarked 
casually. As for Manchuria well, perhaps the Chinese govern- 
ment would grant it dominion status under the Chinese flag but 
with certain economic privileges to Japan. China might also 
guarantee Japan annual consignments of rice, cotton, iron. Just as 
concessions for a peaceful settlement. 

As Kung knew would happen, Carlson related the conversation 
to Ambassador Johnson, who undoubtedly relayed it to the State 

The air raid sirens were sounding as his huge Douglas transport 


took off from Chungking for Kunming, but they made it safely. 
From Kunming to Hanoi he took the Michelin, the rubber-tired 

Finally he reached Hong Kong which sat as smug as a fat cat 
with the warmed milk of colonial exploitation in its belly. 

He had a talk with T. V. Soong, who was a brother of Madame 
Chiang Kai-shek, Madame H. H. Kung and Madame Sun Yat-sen. 
Soong was head of the Bank of China, a liberal by emotion and a 
conservative by interest. He had no diplomatic suggestions to make, 
as his brother-in-law, H. H. Kung, had. But, like Kung, he reflected 
what Carlson heard everywhere: "We don't expect America to fight 
our battles. But we don't expect her to help Japan either." 

The guilt which once Carlson had felt about his country had 
diminished. He was en route to fulfilling his obligation. 

"Not many foreigners think we will win," Soong said. "It means 
a great deal to us when one does, like yourself who is a military 
man and has seen so many of our people and so much of our 

"Anybody who believes in the people," Carlson replied, "has got 
to believe that China will win." 

The crown of his interviews was with a woman he had never met 
before, but whom he had come to admire from afar Madame 
Sun Yat-sen, the widow of China's greatest leader. She was, as he 
noted in his book, the fitting finale to his years of observing the 
Great Chinese Drama. The last time he had seen her was at her 
husband's re-interment in Peiping in 1929. Then she had been deep 
in mourning, at a distance from him, slowly following the body of 
her husband up the highway to the Purple Mountain. And now he 
was seeing her in a small apartment in Hong Kong, where she was 
living in retirement, a critic of her brother-in-law, Chiang Kai-shek, 
and his Kuomintang Party whom she called traitors to the principles 
of Sun Yat-sen. 

"I sensed something of the spirit of this woman," he wrote, "in 
the severity of the simply furnished room. She was allowing her- 
self no luxuries." His Yankee soul warmed to such abnegation. 


To Carlson Madame Sun was a beautiful woman, the most at- 
tractive of the Soong sisters. She had all of Madame Chiang's 
graciousness but was more sincere and more outspoken. In his diary 
he noted that Madame Sun's face told of a love for humanity and a 
lack of thought of self. There was no pretense about her, no t(e ctii 
(standing on ceremony). 

Carlson told her of all his experiences in the Northwest, in 
Hankow and Chungking, and his words were like lights on her 
relaxed, unmasked face. She frowned at his tales of lack of help 
for the partisans, laughed when he told her of his meeting with 
Agnes Smedley, was taut with suspense at the trials of the Eighth 
Route Army, and nodded with high approval at Mao Tse-tung's 
plea for postwar unity. 

She herself was rather bitter. She argued that the time was long 
past when representative government should have been established 
by Chiang Kai-shek who, it seemed, was more concerned with 
winning loyalty to himself than to the principles of a democratic 
China. And if the people were not yet prepared for the voting 
franchise, then why hadn't steps been taken to prepare them? 

Madame Sun didn't say much about what she was doing, but 
Carlson knew from friends in Hong Kong that she was the strength 
behind the China Defense League which raised money for hospi- 
tals and for the care of refugees. 

"And she saw to it that every dollar was honestly spent," Carlson 
recorded. "Under her eagle eye there was no diversion of funds to 
the pockets of unscrupulous officials." 

Earlier that day T. V. Soong had made a rather flattering offer 
to Carlson. He asked him to return to China after his resignation 
went into effect and advise the Military Commission of the National 
Government. And now the offer was repeated in a different way 
by Madame Sun. She asked him to return and advise the Canton 
Defense Council. 

He could not deny that both offers were pleasing to think about, 
but he was not leaving the Marine Corps to become another W. H. 
Donald, as valuable to China's cause as the Australian was. Rather 
and he must keep it clearly in front of him he was leaving be- 


cause his country was unwittingly undermining its own chances of 
And so he refused both T. V. Soong and Madame Sun Yat-sen. 

His last stop in China was Shanghai to see Admiral Yarnell. 

"Are you still set on leaving us?" Yarnell asked. 

"Yes, sir." 

Carlson went into the details of his feelings. 

"Fine, Carlson, fine," Yarnell said. "But I don't think you're a 
good judge of the situation." 

Carlson bridled respectfully. 

"You're too close to China. Your nose is right up against the stump 
of a tree and you can't see the forest behind it. Give yourself time 
and distance. China is only part of the world. This war is only part 
of the war that may come. There'll be a place for you in that war. 
An important place, Carlson. I'm not telling you this to flatter you. 
You're a very competent officer and you've got a fine record. I 
ask you : what's more important to resign now or to stay in and 
throw your weight around on the side of the best elements in the 
Naval and Diplomatic Service? What do you think?" 

Carlson was silent. 

"Whether you like my arguments or not," Yarnell went on, 
"you've got to admit that you need time and objectivity before 
making a decision to throw away a whole life work." 

Carlson lit another cigarette, and he saw that his fingers were 
trembling. These damn decisions, he thought. They are always 
more complicated and more difficult than a decision on a field of 
battle. Yarnell had a point. 

Yarnell saw he had a point, for he pressed it against Carlson. 
"You wrote me that you had given your decision deliberate thought. 
Nonsense! You received Overesch's dispatch on the seventeenth of 
September and you " he referred to some papers on his desk "You 
sent in your resignation on the eighteenth. One day! One day isn't 
time enough to make that kind of decision!" 

Yes, Yarnell had a point. ... He wasn't attacking the decision 
itself but rather the speed and situation in which it was made. . . . 


Perhaps he was too close to China. . . . Perhaps he had moved too 
swiftly, too temperamentally. . . . Yet he knew his act was correct. 
The people at home had to know what was going on. That thought 
he must keep unclouded. He could tell them only if he were a 
civilian again. . . . Again? When had he ever been a civilian? 

Breaking into his own reflection, Carlson said, "Admiral, I ap- 
preciate your interest in me " 

"My interest is primarily in keeping good men in the Navy," 
Yarnell interrupted. 

"But I've got a job to do that may be bigger than the Navy, 

"I agree. But who says you can't write or speak as a Marine 
officer? Just because Overesch objects? Because Japan objects? Take 
it up with them in Washington. Something can be worked out. But 
at any rate, wait! Don't be hasty. When you get back to the States, 
don't press your resignation. Let it slide. Washington will hold 
off until you force the issue. Agreed?" 

Yarnell rose from his chair. 

Frowning, Carlson followed his senior officer and stood up. He 
walked over to the corner of the cabin and looked out of the porthole 
to Shanghai beyond. 

There was China, the foster-mother country which had brought 
him renewed love for his own mother country. There was his 
destiny, his fate, the prod into his heart which had brought him to 
the end of his search. Shanghai, Hankow, Chungking, Ycnan, Jehol, 
Peiping . . . All the tortured and blessed cities . . . And Mao and 
Chu Teh and Li Po and Chou En-lai and Auyung and Nieh and 
Agnes and Donald and the Generalissimo and the wondrous 
Madame Sun. ... All the tortured and blessed people . . . They 
had given him himself, brought into sharp focus the blurred image 
of what he had wanted to become. 

But how had it been possible? His job as a Marine had made it so. 
Otherwise, there might have been nothing. . . . Otherwise he might 
have ended his days a fruit salesman in Montana. . . . 

The Marines had given him an education, the time to study, the 
chance to see other lands and other people. . . . Had he not de- 
termined that some day he would have his own outfit inspirited 


with ethical indoctrination to prove to the world that men who 
knew and loved what they knew were men who fought best? Out 
of the service, how could he do this? Was it not perhaps equally 
important to his country to have military men devoted to making 
its armies democratic? 

Perhaps he had not thought this act of resignation out thoroughly 
enough. Perhaps Yarnell was right. He could always resign again. 

Carlson turned to face Yarnell and smiled grimly. 

"Admiral," Carlson said with a dryness in his throat, "I've never 
heard you called a seagoing lawyer, but if you weren't seagoing, I'll 
bet you'd have been a lawyer." 

Yarnell laughed. He had won. He felt he had done a service not 
only to Carlson but to his country. 

"I'll think it over," Carlson said, "I'll hold off on the resignation 
for a while." He wondered as he spoke whether it was only a ques- 
tion of time. 

Later that day Commander Overesch added his plea to Yarnell's. 
He said that he had meant his telegram to Carlson to be merely a 
warning, and regretted that it gave him the wrong impression. 
"I had not intended it to be so severe," Overesch said. 

Carlson boarded the old transport Chaumont, the ship that was 
like home, the ship on which he had traveled so often. On board he 
found a copy of a letter of commendation which Yarnell had sent 
to him to read: 

U.S.S. Augusta (Flagship) 

16 November, 1938 

From: The Commander in Chief, ASIATIC FLEET. 
To : Captain Evans F. Carlson, U.S. Marine Corps. 
Via : The Major General Commandant, Headquarters, 

Subj ect : Commendation. 

r. Upon your detachment from duty on this station, I 
wish to take this opportunity to again express to you my ap- 


preciation and admiration for the very valuable and efficient 
services which you have rendered during the past year. 

2. Your duties as an observer with the Chinese military 
forces have required you to travel thousands of miles in the 
interior of China, often on foot and horseback over the most 
difficult and hazardous terrain, and under primitive living 
conditions similar to those encountered by native troops. Dur- 
ing this time the nature of your duties not only subjected you 
to the immediate dangers of active warfare but to those of 
pestilence and disease as well. 

3. Your willingness to suffer privations and endure 
hardships, and the courage and zeal displayed by you in the 
performance of your difficult duties merit and receive my warm 
approbation and commendation, and are in keeping with the 
best traditions of the naval service. 

4. The Major General Commandant will be furnished 
a copy of this letter with the request that it be filed with your 
official record. 

Copies to: ALUSNA, Peiping 


Salt-and-pepper tweed 

He arrived in San Francisco the end of December 1938 and spent 
Christmas with his wife there. He had a month's leave before re- 
porting to the Marine Corps Base at San Diego. He wanted the 
month; it would be his time for thinking things out. 

The whole Marine Corps had heard of Carlson's resignation. Old 
friends moved in on him to show him the error of his ways. 


"If you want to write you can write," said Lt. Col. John Thoma- 
son, Jr., who had written many short stories and several books on 
the Marines. "I write. No one tells me I can't/* 

"But you write stories. They're not controversial, John. You don't 
deal with live issues. I don't want to write what you write." 

General Lyman, whose aide Carlson had been, talked to him. 

"Why don't you at least take your retirement pay, Evans," the 
General pleaded. "If you think that Eighth Route Army of yours 
is so great and needs so much help, you can send them your pay. 
If you resign, you have nothing to send." 

"I'm still thinking it over, General," Carlson replied. 

He heard President Roosevelt's speech to the Seventy-sixth Con- 
gress. Carlson was stirred by F. D. R.'s words, and horrified at the 
apathy in the States. They didn't know what's going on! They lived 
in a fool's world! "You go to the movies," he cried, "play bridge, 
bet on horses, get excited over polo and football and, God in 
heaven, human beings are starving to death across the world, are 
dying by inches fighting our battles for us." 

He told them all, and they said that poor old Evans had gotten 
religion, and what he needed was a long rest from China. 

His wife tried to persuade him not to leave the service. "You 
love military life," she said. "When you resigned from the Army, 
you couldn't wait to get back. You will lose all your friends. They 
won't understand your reason for leaving. They'll think less of you." 

"Let them!" he cried savagely. "Let them. If I lose such friends, I 
don't want to keep them." 

From Plymouth came letters from his father and mother, Tom 
and Karen. "Do what you think is best," they wrote. "We're be- 
hind you in whatever you decide." 

Yarnell had told him to put distance between himself and China. 
Well, he was doing it. He was six thousand miles away. But China 
was right next door to him, in the same room, in the same bed. 
He couldn't pull the shade down on Yenan and Wu T'ai Shan . . . 
On Madame Sun Yat-sen . . . On Chu Teh. 

They were expecting something from him. They had shared their 
food and their minds with him. They expected him to act. 


Yet . . . What was the right thing to do? 

Etelle Carlson got the brunt of his anguish. She stood with all 
the others against him. She and General Lyman and Major Thoma- 
son. It wasn't that she didn't understand or was unsympathetic or 
wouldn't have gone with him in any life he would choose to live; 
it was only that she and the others did not know the vocabulary 
of idealism in action. One can understand the words, "good citizen- 
ship," but few can grasp the necessity for acting on such words. It 
is not practical; it is not sane; it is not effective; it gets you no- 
where. Can't you do these things you want to without sacrificing? 
they asked. In essence they wanted him not to do anything! 

On February 20, 1939 he was assigned as Intelligence officer to the 
Headquarters of the Fleet Marine Force in San Diego. 

Three days later he put to test the possibilities of whether he could 
continue in the Marines and live with himself or whether there was 
no choice but to leave. 

On that day he sent a communication to the Secretary of the Navy, 
via the Commandant of the Marine Corps: 

1. I have been invited by Mr. Olin D. Wanamaker, on 
behalf of the Associated Boards for Christian Colleges in China 
(150 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y.) to address a group of 
influential people in Washington, D.C. on an undetermined 
date between March 20 and April 7, on the subject of the 
present situation in China. The group would be assembled by 
Doctor William McClellan, President of the Potomac Electric 
Power Company. Reporters would not be present, and it 
would be stipulated that no publicity would be given the talk. 

2. Information is requested as to whether there would be 
any objection to my making a talk. 

3. The talk would be objective, would not reveal any ma- 
terial received in confidence from Chinese leaders, and would 
be designed to acquaint the group with actual conditions 
existing in China. 

4. There would be no expense to the government. 

His reply came two weeks later, signed by Admiral William D. 
Leahy, acting for Navy Secretary Claude Swanson. The first para- 


graph repeats the facts of the request. It was in the second para- 
graph which Carlson found his answer to everything: 

2. The Navy Department has no objection to the pro- 
posed talk provided it reveals nothing that you learned by 
reason of being language officer or because of other duties 
assigned to you by the Naval Attache in China. [Italics 

"Nothing you have learned . . . because of duties assigned to you 
... in China!" 

This was absurd. Anger flourished in Carlson. This was more than 
absurd; it was dishonest. 

How could he talk five words about China without revealing 
what he had learned in the course of his duties there? He had never 
been there except on duty. 

Leahy meant simply that he could not talk. 

And he would talk! 

All the fine words of Yarnell, his wife and friends were empty 
sounds now. 

All he heard was his own vow: Americans must be informed. 
They must stop sending supplies to Japan. They must see their own 

He had thought it over and here was the answer. 

His resignation, this time to be followed through, was sent on the 
seventeenth of March, one day after he received Leahy's reply. 

He arose late from bed the next Sunday morning, put on a salt- 
and-pepper tweed suit, drove out into the country in back of San 
Diego with his wife and said, "Don't you notice how happy I am?" 

She noticed it. But she was not so happy. 

Before Leahy's letter reached him, Carlson had been given the 
professional examination for promotion as Major, had qualified, and 
his name had been sent to the United States Senate for confirmation. 
As before in Hankow, he pressed his resignation before the Sen- 
ate could confirm him. He wanted no one to accuse him of wait- 
ing until he became a Major before leaving the service. 


As it happened, his resignation was accepted by Major General 
Holcomb, Commandant of the Marine Corps, "with regrets and ap- 
preciation . . . and with hope for a happy and successful civil life" 
to become effective April 30, 1939. On May 3, the Senate, slow in its 
own way, confirmed the appointment of Carlson as Major. 

Marine Corps Headquarters asked Carlson to take his commis- 
sion in the Reserve, but he rejected the offer for the same reason he 
had refused to retire. He wanted no strings. 

Now he was free. He was free to go where he wanted, to speak, 
to write, to say what he knew without requesting anyone's per- 

The Institute of Pacific Relations, an unofficial and nonpolitical 
organization founded in 1925 to study the peoples of the Pacific 
Area, was conducting an inquiry into the problems arising from 
the Si no-Japanese war. Edward C. Carter, the Secretary-General, 
asked Carlson whether he would undertake to write a nonpartisan 
study of the Chinese Army in all its aspects. 

He gladly accepted. 

He didn't have much money saved, and would have to live on 
borrowings from his insurance policy and the infrequent sale of an 
article to a magazine usually one that didn't pay very much. The 
Institute of Pacific Relations gave him a grant of $500 to write the 
Chinese Army book. 

He and his wife rented a house in San Diego, and he began a life 
which for so long he had wanted to live. 

It was a simpler life than the one in the Corps. No calls to make, 
no entertaining, no going out evenings for dinner. It meant all his 
meals at home, at odd hours; it meant, most of all, a new kind of self- 
discipline at the typewriter. For so active a man physically the 
typewriter might have ordinarily been a prison. His portable lay 
black, inert, metallic and uninviting against the bright outside, the 
banks of flowers on the lawn, the low hills beyond, the beaches 
near by, the country walks. 

He pounded it, possessed. 

Mrs. Carlson wrote about their life to his people in Plymouth. 
"Our only relaxations," she said, "are the movies. We go once or 


twice a week. We were very enthusiastic about Alexander Graham 
Bell and Pygmalion. We're looking forward to seeing Juarez. With 
the European situation the way it is and the China business still 
unsettled, I know Evans will be getting the urge to be doing things. 
He already has it but he wants to do more on his book." 

He had to write like a man possessed, for the wars were calling. 

In between articles for Asia and Amerasia on his experiences in 
China, speeches at churches, conventions, American Legion Posts, 
he worked on his Chinese Army book. 

It is not a long study, about thirty thousand words, and it is 
filled with facts of logistics, finance, chain of command, strength of 
companies, regiments, etc. It contains a brief but complete histori- 
cal background of the Chinese military. 

Although the book, in all respects, is an objective piece of work, 
Carlson could not avoid judgments. 

He announces, in the beginning, his own unworthincss for the task 
confronting him but hopes that his experience, shared by few other 
foreigners, might have some significance. 

"Intimate association with the Chinese soldier," he wrote, "evoked 
in the writer a feeling of profound admiration and respect for this 
unorthodox but effective military man." 

The average Chinese, to Carlson, is resourceful, intelligent, loyal 
to his family, "and faithful to the point of death to a leader who 
treats him with consideration." 

He contrasts the morale of the Kuomintang forces with those of 
the Eighth Route Army, the differences between a group of men 
trained primarily to obey and a group trained by the "rule of reason" 
in which understanding and volition are primary. The men, he says, 
of one army "become automatons without spiritual convictions. 
When the men of such an army are pitted, in a long and arduous 
war, against troops which are fighting for an ideal, the spirit of the 
latter enables them better to endure the strain." 

When his manuscript was finished, it was submitted through 
Edward C. Carter, to such authorities as Mr. T. A. Bisson, Mr. 
George Atcheson, Jr. of our State Department, and Lieutenant Colo- 
nel Philip R. Faymonville of the War Department. They made 


many valuable suggestions, and Carlson gladly made revisions. The 
book was published in the Spring of 1940, received few notices in 
the general press, but among soldiers and diplomats, it was taken 
as an authority. 14 

That summer, relieved of his first big writing job, he was happy 
to accept an invitation from the Institute of International Relations 
at Mills College in Oakland, California. 

Here he was among men who had made a profession of the study 
of international affairs, Harry Gideonse of Columbia University, 
Stanley Hornbeck of the State Department, Samuel Guy Inman, 
specialist on South American affairs for Cordell Hull. Others who 
participated were Norman Thomas, the socialist, and Gerald Heard, 
the anthropologist-philosopher-pacifist. 

He felt himself flowering in the round-table debates. He was 
matching the fact of the school of his eyes and ears and heart against 
pedagogical fact, theory, and doctrine. 

To many of his colleagues he may well have sounded strange, a 
messiah of contradiction. He was Major Carlson, recently resigned 
from the Marine Corps, saying, "I do not believe in the use of force 
... in international differences." Saying: "We must begin with 
the self -discipline of the individual." He was against an International 
Police Force. He called it good in theory, unsound in practice. How 
could its component parts and its leadership be divorced from repre- 
senting the power interests of their respective countries? he asked. 

He argued with Frederick Libby of the National Council for 
the Prevention of War. Libby said that we should not interfere in the 
Sino-Japanese war. Prohibiting trade with Japan would not help. 

But Japan gets 54 per cent of her war materials from us, Carlson 
insisted. We are taking sides. The wrong side. We must force Con- 
gress to pass embargoes stopping such trade with Japan. 

Whenever he had a chance to speak, he played the same tune: 
We must stop helping Japan. China can win. Japan has only a finger- 
hold on China. Our national interests are bound up with China's 

14 The Chinese Army by Evans Fordycc Carlson; Institute of Pacific 
Relations, 1940. 


And he showed his contempt for phrases like "balance of power," 
"spheres of influence," "power politics/' He admitted them as facts, 
but he refused to accept their permanence. He wanted to go beyond 
them; self -discipline, sacrifice . . . 

He was, in this aspect, alone at Mills College. 

From Mills College, he wrote a letter describing the Institute and 
the talks he was giving: 

Besides my lectures here, I have one at the International 
House in Berkeley, one for the San Francisco Junior Chamber 
of Commerce, and one for the Pacific Coast Conference of 
the Committee Against War Shipments to Japan. 

Hope I can get away with all this. If I do, Dad, pat yourself 
on the back. Any speaking ability I have, I inherited from you. 

He was certainly keeping his promise to himself. 

On March 10, 1939 Joseph Stalin had made a speech to the Eight- 
eenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In it 
he criticized the appeasement of Hitler at Munich, and warned those 
in other countries who hoped for a Nazi-Soviet war that Russia 
will not pull other nations* chestnuts out of the fire. On the 5th of 
May Foreign Commissar Litvinov resigned. Molotov took his place. 
One month later Great Britain, somewhat frightened by what she 
was hearing in the foreign offices of Europe, sent a minor diplomat, 
William Strang, to Moscow to work out a British-Soviet agreement. 
Strang had little authority; nothing much was done. On the 22nd 
of August the world was shattered by the signing of a Soviet- 
German Nonaggression Pact. 

Americans did not know what to make of it. No one, least of all 
the American Communist, had anticipated the move. And con- 
fusion, heartache, malconstructions emerged in the next five or six 
days. Carlson was one of the few who grasped quickly a point of 
view on this enormous event. His estimate of the Russians, de- 
rived from talks with the Chinese Reds and Soviet citizens he had 
met in China, had convinced him there was a fundamental difference 
between Soviet life and Fascist life. Munich had shown him that the 
non-Fascist, noncommunist, democratic capitalisms of the West were 


trying to encourage a war between Russia and Germany in the hope 
of destroying both without cost to themselves. It was the same 
kind of shortsightedness, he felt, which permitted the United States 
to help Japan against China. He did not believe that Russia would 
permit itself to engage in a gladiators' contest with Germany while 
the rest of the world jeered both sides and hungered for the day 
when it could pick the carcasses of Russian and German dead. 

The day after the nonaggression pact was announced he took the 
time to write a long letter to Plymouth. He knew that his folks 
would be interested in his opinions, now that he had worked up a 
little reputation in international politics: 

Well, Russia evidently has the boys guessing now. The 
Russo-Gcrman Pact was one of the shrewdest moves made in 
many a day. I am inclined to believe that it may mean the end 
of the old type French and British imperialism as I have known 
it in China. It also means the dawn of a new social and eco- 
nomic era in Europe . . . America will be well advised to keep 
out of Europe and turn her face to the south and to the west. 

If things get hot in Europe I will probably head for New 
York and try to get a job as a war correspondent there. I am 
eager to see you all but I am sailing pretty close to the breeze 
right now and don't want to spend any more money than I 
have to. 

Bishop Roots is here in Frisco, and we had several soul- 
searching talks. He is trying to win me over to the Moral 
Re-Armament movement, but I can't reconcile their deeds 
with their words. 

No, MRA was not for him. He distrusted its "works" even while 
he heard its protestations of its "faith." He would distrust the an- 
gelic choir, if they did not match with their deeds the sinless seduc- 
tion of their song. No Loreleis for Carlson. 


The shadow of his home 

Carlson's mother, Joetta, had been a bed and wheel-chair invalid 
for fifteen years. It was something the doctors weren't too sure about: 
neuritis, phlebitis something that sallowed her body and sick- 
ened her. Carlson, who was lecturing here and there, the West, the 
South, the East, felt he ought to go home. His mother was 74. She 
could not live much longer. 

Perhaps Joetta Carlson knew she was dying when her son re- 
turned. Perhaps because of this, or because she wanted to show 
of! in her beautiful, proud, pathetic Evans way, she appeared to 
him to be more energetic and more spirited than he had ever re- 
membered her. 

They had some good times together. They kept telling stories of 
the past on each other. Carlson told them of the people he had 
known in his life. (Make up for lost time.) He described the places 
in China he had lived in and marched through. 

He joshed his mother a lot, especially about his first enlistment 
in the Army. 

"I told 'em I was six years older than I really was, mother," he 
would say with a grin. 

His mother always was baited by the story. "But, Evans," she 
would protest, "that would mean you were born in 1890, and your 
father and I weren't married until 1893. How could you?" 

The son would laugh and the father would laugh. But Joetta was 
still scandalized all these years. 

"Did Dad ever tell you we received a telegram from Orville Kel- 
logg when you joined the Army?" Joetta asked. 

"Yes," Carlson said. 

"We could've pulled you back, you know," Joetta said. "Under- 
age. It would have been simple." 


"I know," Carlson said. 

"But we didn't. Your father and I talked it over. We thought you 
ought to have a chance to make yourself the way you wanted it." 
She tightened the blue silk shawl around her shoulders. 

Carlson was silent. The cards of memory were being shuffled. He 
remembered coming down the hill behind the parsonage at Peacham 
when he embraced his mother, arm around her shoulder, and he 
looked across the hills and thought how wonderful it would be if he 
could have all the adventure in the world and never leave home. 

"It was hard to have you leave us, Evans," Joetta Carlson said. 

What could he tell her now? 

It was a week or so before Christmas, and Carlson was down at 
Virginia Beach, Virginia, at a convention of the Institute of Pacific 
Relations. The mimeographed manuscript of his book on the Chinese 
Army was being studied by another committee of university schol- 
ars who recommended that it be published in book form. On his 
way back to Plymouth he planned to stay over a few days in New 
York. He telephoned to Plymouth to find out how his mother was. 
Karen told him she was dying; he'd better come right home. 

The house was fixed for Christmas, tree and gifts and wreaths and 
holly. On the twenty-first Joetta Carlson died, and the moment came 
when Carlson felt older than his father. 

"What does God require of thee?" asked Tom Carlson, her hus- 
band, silently to himself, silent in the forest of grief in which he 
found himself lost. 'Do justly, love kindness and walk humbly with 
Thy God.' " 

He walked in the forest by himself. 

Everyone came to the funeral. The neighbors came already in 
the conspiracy to cook and clean for their pastor and neighbor dur- 
ing the mourning. The selectmen came, the parishioners, the towns- 
people, the country people from outside the town. They wanted to 
walk with the great, tall tree of a pastor into his church where he 
had preached and had often mentioned his wife, and with him up 
to the cemetery on the hill. 

In the White House that day, Franklin Roosevelt pushed aside 


some papers, very important ones, and wrote a letter of condolence 
to his friend, Evans Carlson. 

After the funeral Thomas Carlson walked back into his house. 
She whom he had loved so wholly, the hero of his ministry, had 
left him. 

Evans Carlson went to work on a book. 15 In February he had met 
Raymond Bond of Dodd, Mead and Company, publishers, at a 
meeting of the Dutch Treat Club in New York. Bond asked him 
to write a book about his experiences in China. Carlson said he 
wasn't sure he could or had the time. But Bond pressed him, and 
sent Carlson a contract and an advance of 500 dollars. The dead- 
line for delivery was June i, 1940. 

He had his diaries and his notes and an extraordinary memory. 
But there were problems to be faced. He did not want it to be a 
book with all "I" in it; his shyness, secrctivcness and pride rejected 
that approach. Yet, it would be ridiculous to eliminate the "I," for 
the worth of the book was derived from his experiences. 

In his introduction, he wrote: 

For the use of the first person, I apologize to the reader. It 
is not pleasant to write of one's personal feelings and experi- 
ences, and I have done so only because I believe that I was 
privileged to witness events which arc little known, and which 
have considerable historical significance. If this book possesses 
any merit, it lies in the honesty with which I have attempted 
to portray the people and events I observed. 

He read it aloud that night to his father and his sister, Karen. 
They agreed that it was a good way of putting it. 

He typed all morning, read what he had written to his father and 
Karen at lunch, banged the piano afterwards, worked again until 
around five, walked along the elm-shaded streets, into the coun- 
try. After dinner he read aloud again what he had written in the 
afternoon; then worked on until two or three in the morning. He 
was in a hurry to finish. The winter and spring of 1940 were the 

15 Twin Stars of China. 


seasons of disaster. May started with the surrender of Norway and 
ended with the Belgian surrender and the despair of Dunkirk. He 
had to hurry. 

There were other problems in the writing of the book which had 
to be faced. The united front of Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang 
and the Communists was still in effect. And with all its strains and 
tensions, Carlson anticipated that it would remain in effect, at least 
until the war was won. He knew, too, that the Generalissimo was the 
only man in China who could hold the country together. For 
these reasons he refrained from offering any direct arguments 
which might be used to create further conflict between Chiang Kai- 
shek and the Communists. For example, he did not criticize Chiang 
Kai-shek's failure to help the guerrillas of the Eighth Route Army, 
but rather found excuses for him. He spoke of Chiang's Olympian 
self-possession, the inscrutability which gave the "impression to each 
political group that he secretly sympathizes with the doctrines of 
that group." He said he felt that a mutual confidence obtained be- 
tween the Generalissimo and the Communists (which he did hon- 
estly feel at the time), but to explain the continuing friction he 
added: "The minds of bourgeois officials had to be adjusted to this 
idea (unity) gradually." He spoke of Chiang Kai-shek's conversion 
to Christianity and though he seemed to think it was a genuine 
conversion, his own integrity forced him to say more about the 
Generalissimo's religious faith. 

I will not attempt to reconcile the Generalissimo's Christian 
faith [ Carlson wrote on page two hundred and seventy-seven 
of his book] with his action in causing the execution of thou- 
sands of people of Communist persuasion during the civil war, 
except to point out that down through the ages men have 
placed varying interpretations on Christian doctrine. . . . 
Perhaps Chiang reasoned that Communism was an evil 
which justified the use of un-Christian practices to eliminate it. 
I have known American missionaries who were violent and 
uncompromising in their denunciation of the Chinese Com- 
munist leaders. And yet I found those same leaders unostenta- 
tiously practicing Christian doctrines more punctiliously and 


with greater consistency than many professing Christians of 
my acquaintance. Ideas sometimes do strange things to the 
human mind . . . 

The reasonableness with which Carlson dealt with Chiang Kai- 
shek came from his recognition that a united China was more im- 
portant than expressing his own straightforward opinion that Chiang 
Kai-shek was neither a Christian nor a democrat; that the Kuomin- 
tang, at the top, was more a party of corrupt freebooters than the 
representatives of the people. He was willing to acknowledge the 
possibility that Chiang Kai-shek might be changed by the condi- 
tions of peace, especially if the United States did not throw its weight 
around in China on his behalf. 

During the writing of the book he kept lecturing on China. 

In Washington he spoke on a program with Senator (later Secre- 
tary of Labor) Schwellenbach. "Embargo war shipments to Japan," 
he pleaded. 

While he was in Washington, he saw the President. 

"What arc you doing these days, Evans?" F. D. R. asked. 

"Trying to get our people to stop helping Japan, Mr. President." 

"I'm trying too," the President said, "I think we're going to get 
something through this Congress." 

"And if not, Mr. President?" 

Franklin Roosevelt's face became solemn. "It may take an ex- 
ecutive order," he said slowly. He looked up at Carlson from his 
desk. "What are your plans for the future?" 

Carlson hesitated even as he answered, "I guess I'll continue 
working for good causes." He felt that Roosevelt's question indi- 
cated that he hoped Carlson would have some definite government 
job in mind. But he hadn't anything in mind. He'd given up a 
government job to be free to talk. 

The President, seeming a little disappointed, changed the subject. 

Carlson spoke to Foreign Policy Association groups in Boston, 
Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, Springfield, Hartford. 
He spoke to the Hudson River Valley Conferences of Methodist 


Churches: "These Chinese of the Eighth Route Army," he said, 
"were not professing Christians but they were practicing Christian 
doctrine. ... I have seen the doctrines of brotherly love work. . . . 
In the words of Christ: 'If you love only those who love you, what 
credit is that to you? ... If you help only those who help you, what 
merit is that to you?'" 

To the League of Nations Association in Baltimore, he said that 
if we stop appeasing Japan now, she will not attack us. If we con- 
tinue to appease, sooner or later she will turn on us. ... 

On Memorial Day the selectmen of Plymouth asked him to speak 
at the services. They listened to him on the elm-bordered green which 
the Plymouth people called "the park." 

He talked very briefly. He reminded them of Shiloh and Cold 
Harbor. "Democracy," he told them, "is a state of mind, a convic- 
tion which flows from within, and it can endure only so long as a 
majority of the people arc determined that it shall be kept alive." 

They were wading out into the channel from Dunkirk as his 
words fell on the soft Connecticut day. 

"It means the freedom to think, act, write and speak as we feel, 
as long as we do our neighbor no harm; it means that we claim the 
right to share equally with all men the rights, privileges and op- 
portunities which our way of life may provide." 

They were being strafed on the beaches, on the roads, in the fields. 
The sun was warm and clear in Plymouth. 

"Let us pledge ourselves. . . . Let us prove ourselves the worthy 
stewards of the golden heritage. . . ." 

He wrote the whole one hundred thousand words of the book 
during April and May. He worked in his father's study, and the 
floor and tables and desk were cluttered with papers, notes and the 
photographs which he had taken in China and which would il- 
lustrate the volume. 

When it came time to end the book, he was uncertain how to do 
it. He had already vaguely described his resignation from the Marine 
Corps by indicating nothing of his own feelings, but rather attrib- 
uting it to the necessity of disembarrassing the Naval Service by 


his separation from it. This, therefore, would not be a good end. 
It would be too personal. After searching around for the right 
note, he finished his book by saying that there was hope for China; 
that national independence, democracy and an economic sufficiency 
for all its 450,000,000 people would come. 

(In 1927 China to him was a mob that had to be taught respect for 
foreigners. In 1933 China was not so much a people as a high and 
esoteric culture. And now, in 1940, China was what she had always 
been, though he had not always known it, a yearning for freedom 
from feudalism and intervention.) 

On this he had come far. 

But he added still one more paragraph: 

The key to this pattern (of progress) is the clement which 
alone can be the key to any successful society of human beings: 
the practice of selflessness by its members and vigilant regard 
for the rights and feelings of others. 

In this thought he had not traveled much. He had learned it from 
his father. 

He might have dedicated his book to his father, but his mother 
was dead and, in her death, he realized that much of her he had 
never seen; that she, with his father, was the shadow of his home 
which followed wherever he went. 

And so the dedication was written: 





Jen jen wei wo, wo wei jen jen 

When Carlson finished Twin Stars of China and attended a sec- 
ond Institute of International Relations at Mills College, he was ready 
for another trip to China unimpeded by officialdom. He wanted to 
gauge her war potential as our first line of defense. President Roose- 
velt in July had issued an executive order embargoing the shipment 
of certain important war materials to Japan, and Carlson felt that 
part of his job was done. In his heart he felt that Roosevelt had 
been too late. France had collapsed, England was against the wall 
of her home islands. Everyone was appeasing Japan. The Burma 
Road was closed. F. D. R. had waited too long. 

En route to China, Carlson stopped off at Manila and met an old 
acquaintance, a man with an odd name who was to write the next 
chapter in Carlson's life, Rewi Alley. 

Rewi Alley was the son of Irish and English pioneers who had 
moved into the New Zealand wilderness because they wanted to 
make a world. Two of his great-uncles fought with General Grant's 
armies in our own Civil War, and one of them was a founder of a 
city in Nebraska which he called by the name of his great hero, 

The Chinese called Rewi Alley, Kao Pl-tzu Gung-Ho Jen, "the 
big-nosed work-together man." The name fitted. His nose thrust 
out from his face like an angry hawk's. It was bigger and more pow- 
erful even than Carlson's own. And like Carlson's, his eyes were 
burning blue, transparently mimicking the shifting phases of his 
temper and most frequently reflecting a wild indignation at poverty. 
All reports say that Alley's tongue was violent, his strength pro- 
digious and his integrity unscalable. 

In 1937 Rewi Alley gave up his job as chief factory inspector with 
the Shanghai Municipal Council when the government asked him 

JEN JEN WEI WO, ... 281 

to become chief technical advisor to the Chinese Industrial Co- 
operatives. The C.I.C. had nothing when he came to it, not a lathe 
or a single chisel. Alley was its total staff. But a Chinese industry 
had to be built, for Japan might win through her sale of goods in 
China what she could not win with her armies. China had to fight 
back on this front as well. 

By 1938, when Carlson first met Rewi Alley in Hankow, the 
C.I.C. had already organized 1500 small co-operatives all over China. 
It was a guerrilla industry, portable, to be picked up and moved 
wherever Japanese armies came close. This vast decentralization 
saved it from attack by air and the hazards of transportation of raw 
materials. Wherever the raw material was, and wherever the Jap 
was not, there was built a co-operative factory. The slogan of the 
co-ops was Gung Ho. No slogan could better match the spirit of 
the C.I.C. 

Although by August 1940 the C.I.C. had three thousand co- 
operatives and the sponsorship of such men and women as Mrs. 
Franklin Roosevelt, Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Madame Sun Yat- 
sen, Robert and Clark Millikan, Vincent Shccan, Henry Luce, 
Admiral Yarnell, Episcopal Bishops, Catholic Monsignors, scientists, 
statesmen and scholars, it required a great deal of monetary help. 

Rewi Alley was in Manila for hospital treatment of his old World 
War wounds, malaria, malnutrition and overwork. When he met 
Carlson, he saw in him a man who would help. He asked Carlson 
to make a tour of inspection with him. Carlson promptly agreed. 

By October they were in the heart of the Chckiang province, 
about four hundred miles west of Shanghai. They had already cov- 
ered four provinces and several dozen co-operatives, but it wasn't 
until they had come to this place in Chekiang that Carlson saw the 
full drama of the co-operatives 1 contribution to China's war. 

He and Rewi Alley and about twenty Chinese were sitting in 
the wing of a sprawling Buddhist temple. Near them was a tri- 
angular sign with the Chinese characters of Gung Ho, the slogan 
of the Chinese Industrial Co-operatives. Below it was another: Jen 
jen wei wo, wo wei jen jen. It meant, "All men help me, and I help 
all men." 


The meeting had been called to discuss the danger of an imminent 
Japanese advance into their area. 

At the opposite side of a huge round table sat the Regional Di- 
rector of the co-operatives, Meng Tso-shun, his tall slender frame 
rising above those of the others. 16 

"The enemy is only thirty miles to the east," he was saying. "Our 
troops are now holding well and I believe the enemy drive has run 
its course, but it is wise to take precautions. At least those units 
which are located within the city should be moved to the rural 
sections to the west, and I have already selected tentative locations. 
But I want your advice." As he spoke a burr of r's slipped off his 
tongue at the end of a word now and then, betraying his Peiping 

The chairman of a co-operative which made steel helmets and 
canteens spoke: 

"Our co-operative can move in two hours," he said. "I propose that 
we evacuate to the locations you have selected and wait there for 
future developments. If the city falls, there will still be time to move 
farther west into the mountains." 

"I second that motion," boomed the chairman of a blanket-making 
co-operative a refugee from Shanghai. "But the move will entail 
additional expense, and we should carry a reserve of food. Our co- 
operative has just started and we haven't much money." 

The Regional Director looked at Rewi Alley. "I have some special 
funds," he said, "provided for bringing in the families of some of 
our workers from Shanghai." 

"Use them," barked Rewi. "This is an emergency. First things 
first. Industry must be preserved at all cost. Here, I'll assume re- 
sponsibility for diverting that money to this evacuation job." He 
scribbled a short note to the Regional Director, using the back of 
an envelope. 

Towards nightfall Rewi Alley and Carlson went down to the river 
to see how things were going. A motley column of men, women 
and children, all bearing on their backs or on shoulder poles part 

18 Carlson reported this scene and his enure experience with the C.I.C. 
in Amerasia, March, 1941. 

JEN JEN WEI WO, ... 283 

of the machinery of a weaving co-operative, was crossing a pontoon 
bridge. Behind them were leather workers carrying their huge 
hides, and down the river bank streamed the members of an iron 
works co-operative bent low under loads of metal and lathes. It was 
a great hegira of working people with their tools of production. 

"There's the answer to the future of China," Rewi Alley said. 
"The working people. If they only had a chance to work out their 
own destiny." 

In Kanchow on the first of November, Carlson received clippings 
of reviews of his book which had just been published. No one had 
thought of sending him a copy of the book, and it wasn't until 
January that he saw one in a bookstore in Hongkong. It was priced 
at $18 Chinese ($5 American) but his pleasure at seeing it prompted 
extravagance and he bought it. 

His book was well received considering that this was 1940 when 
few people had any interest in China and fewer sympathized with 
the Chinese Communists. In a very long review in the New Yorf^ 
Times R. L. Duffus praised the book's honesty and its lack of af- 
fectation. He remarked at Carlson's failure to make his heroic trek 
sound heroic and, in contrast to other reviews, he described him 
as anything but "a bright-eyed visionary." Lewis Gannett in the 
Herald Tribune thought he was too uncritical in his estimate of both 
Chiang Kai-shek and the Reds, and he wished that Carlson told 
more about himself. "He sounds like a good sort." Freda Utley re- 
viewing the book for the Saturday Review of Literature tried to 
strike a balance between her respect and admiration for Carlson and 
her passionate and irrational detestation of anything Red. All the 
critics of his book, however, agreed that Carlson had opened their 
minds to the advantages to our country in a unified China. 

It was this note which made him feel that his book had suc- 

In Kanchow, too, he was delighted to hear from a Father Maguire 
of a nearby mission that Franklin Roosevelt had been elected for a 
third time. 

At Christmas he was in Chungking where he met old friends 


and talked once more with Chiang Kai-shek who was no more help- 
ful than before. Chou En-lai was in Chungking too, to work out, 
if possible, new tensions arisen between Chiang's Kuomintang army 
and the New Fourth Army which had some Communists in its 

Chou En-lai told Carlson that Chiang Kai-shek had made a special 
point of inviting Chou to dinner on the anniversary of the Sian 
kidnaping. "He took my hand very tenderly in his and said, *I 
have never forgotten what you did for me at Sian.' He thinks I 
saved his life there. He is a very grateful man. This is fine, except 
that politics are never solved through gratitude." 

Before January came around, he had traveled through nine prov- 
inces, four thousand miles, and had inspected about six hundred co- 
operative shops for the manufacture of textiles, matches, leather 
goods, shoes, paper, sugar, soap, alcohol, building materials, muni- 
tions, tobacco, candles, umbrellas, flashlights, batteries, spare parts 
fur trucks, and shops producing machinery for all the other shops. 

In this trip he learned the strategies of China's economic guer- 
rilla war against Japan. He realized that without this prop, the po- 
litical and military war could never be consummated in victory. 

There was one thing more he learned: that the Japanese war 
against our country would come upon us soon. With information he 
gathered from Japanese prisoners, from Chinese military men and 
statesmen, he concluded that the war would come sometime in 
1941 by a surprise attack on the Philippines, and possibly Guam and 

He felt the need to return to the States quickly to put his findings 
before the President and the State and Navy departments. 


"This is no drill" 

In a letter home from Hong Kong on the sixth of January 1941, 
he wrote: 

My last week in Chungking was hectic. Talked with 
officials daily: Chiang Kai-shek, Chen Li-fu, leader of the 
extreme rightests, Tai Li, chief of the Chinese Gestapo, who 
rarely sees foreigners, and Chou En-lai. As a result 1 have as 
good an understanding of the situation as it is possible for 
a foreigner to obtain, I believe. 

I cut short my trip because of a hunch. I feel that events in 
the international field are moving rapidly towards a point 
where it will be necessary for America to participate actively 
in the war. With such a prospect it behooves me to return 
before the break comes so that I may place my information 
before the authorities. I must also be in a position to oiler my 
services for active duty. 

He flew to Manila and talked with Francis B. Sayre, Philippine 
High Commissioner, who listened carefully to Carlson's prediction. 
General Douglas MacArthur also listened. But the General was not 
at all sure that the Japs would attack. And if they did, he was cer- 
tain that they would be thrown out of the Philippines. To Carlson 
the General's military theories were as orthodox as the High Church. 
MacArthur did not take kindly to the idea that it might be wise to 
prepare the Filipinos for guerrilla warfare. 

"Put in ammunition and food dumps in the hills north of Manila, 
General," Carlson suggested. "Train men for jungle war; how to 
hide, how to infiltrate, how to stop the Japs from infiltrating. Guer- 
rillas will be able to attack Jap bases once they are established, and 
can cut their lines of communication." 

MacArthur replied politely that in his opinion guerrilla warfare 


was indecisive, and turned the conversation back to the first World 
War when they had known each other in Germany. 

But Carlson, free to speak his mind, spoke it unequivocally to 

On January 30, 1941, ten months bejore the attack on Pearl Har- 
bor, the Los Angeles Times ran an interview with Carlson head- 
lined : 


United States Will Win, But It Won't 

Be Easy, Says Author Returning 

From Orient 

On the same day, the Los Angeles Daily News headlined its 
story : 


In these interviews Carlson predicted a Japanese attack on the 
Dutch East Indies, French Indo-China, Singapore, and especially 
on the Philippine Islands. He figured the attack would be timed 
with Germany's blitz-invasion of England. 

"Our first line of defense at this moment is China," he said. 

He miscalculated only in the time of the attack. Instead of coming 
in three months, it came in ten months. 

He went to Washington, saw President Roosevelt and told his 
story. Roosevelt was hopeful but realistic about the future in the 
Pacific. Among some of the Far-Eastern specialists of the State De- 
partment, Carlson found too great a reliance in the possibility of 
appeasing Japan into inactivity. 

He presented his arguments for a loan to the Chinese Industrial 
Co-operatives, and was heartsick when he was told that there was 
no chance for it. 

To secret sessions of the Foreign Policy Association and the In- 
stitute of Pacific Relations in Washington and New York he pre- 
sented facts concerning the corruption and semi-Fascist behavior 
of much of Kuomintang China. He insisted on making these talks 


secret, for it was his belief that as long as Chiang Kai-shek con- 
tinued to fight against Japan, open criticism of him would be harm- 
ful to our own interests. 

In New York he worked with the American Committee for 
Chinese Industrial Co-operatives, urging it to make certain that its 
support went not to the Kuomintang-led co-ops which were not 
truly co-ops, but rather to those with democratic leadership, headed 
by Rewi Alley and Bishop Hall of Hong Kong. 

And all this time he was putting his personal affairs in order so 
that he would be free to join the armed service again. 

The time came, oddly enough, after a speech which he made in 
April to the Army and Navy Club in Washington. He had spoken 
for almost an hour on the possible tactics to be used in the eventual 
Pacific War. After he was finished, a Marine Colonel came up to 

"Carlson," the Colonel said, "isn't it about time you came back?" 

Carlson grinned. "Sure, it's about time." 

"But when? The way you talk the Japs are going to attack us any 
day now." 

"Well, I've been thinking of going over to talk to the Army one 
of these days." 

"Why the Army?" 

"Frankly, because I know what will happen if I put in my ap- 
plication for the Marines. My paper will come up to the Reserve 
board and someone will say, 'Carlson wants to come in again. What'll 
we do with the s.o.b.?'" 

The Colonel laughed. "That's exactly what would happen," he 
admitted. "But we've called you s.o.b. ever since you resigned; it 
oughtn't to be news to you." 

It was Carlson's turn to laugh. "It's hard to get used to, but maybe 
that's what will make me feel more at home in the Marines." 

The next day he went up to see Major General Holcomb, Com- 
mandant of the Marines. 

"General," Carlson said, "I think it's about time for me to get 
back in." 

The light from the window sparkled in Holcomb's round glasses. 


"I was expecting you, Carlson. Colonel Skinner told me he talked 
to you yesterday." 

"Did he tell you what I said, sir?" 

Holcomb smiled and nodded. 

"Here I am, General." 

"It's too bad you had to resign, Carlson," Holcomb said. "We 
won't be able to give you a commission in the Regulars." 

"I know, sir." 

Carlson, of course, expected this. It was not important. He knew 
that even in wartime, when promotions would come quickly to 
everyone, a Reserve officer rarely reached a grade higher than Colo- 
nel, certainly not beyond Brigadier. But he wasn't coming back to 
get a silver star on his shoulder. 

Holcomb told him to report to Colonel Skinner who was the ex- 
ecutive officer of the Reserve Division. 

"If I have a choice of duty, General," Carlson said, "I'd like 
either a combat outfit or China." 

It was almost as if he were back nineteen years in the Marine 
Recruiting office in Portland, Oregon. Physically he had not changed 
to match two decades. He was still erect, supple, youthful in body. 
His hair was only slightly gray, his cheeks lined only in the deep 
laugh lines which he had had for all the years. 

Colonel Skinner wanted to know whether the General told Carl- 
son what rank he was to have. 

"I didn't ask him," Carlson said. "He didn't tell me." 

Skinner called Holcomb's office. 

"He says," the Colonel said, "that you are to be given the rank of 
Major, with rank as of today. That's a help, Carlson. The Old Man 
must like you." Skinner looked up an officer's register. "You've lost 
about 250 numbers on the Majors' list by your resignation," he said. 
"Too bad." 

Carlson shrugged, signed his papers and left. 

It is about this time that Etelle and Evans Carlson made a decision 
to separate. 


They had been married for eighteen years. Etelle Carlson, in talk- 
ing of her marriage, said, "I had eighteen very happy years. That's 
more than most women have in their lifetimes. I think I have been 
very lucky." 

Etelle Carlson is a very sure-sighted woman. She had built her life 
on a fair reality and not on the awkward architecture of discontent 
or preconception. Her desires were not gigantic, and so perhaps this 
disappointment did not completely overwhelm her. She had, of 
course, genuinely enjoyed the life of the wife of a military man. She 
was with Carlson in Nicaragua, and in China in 1927 and 1933. 
The protocol and formalized grace of diplomatic and military 
society she had found particularly attractive. 

Yet she knew during the last years that perhaps it would not go 
on. Carlson went to China in 1937 anc ' ' n T 94 without her. 

These were long periods of being apart. 

Carlson's resignation from the Marines she understood only in 
part. For what she thought were his own best interests, she tried to 
dissuade him from the step. It seemed to her that he was striking 
out into an unknown world of "causes," where he stood alone 
against the tide of the time. 

This decision to separate was not hers alone; for she nnd her hus- 
band worked out their states of mind and their proposed separation 
together. If Carlson wanted it, so then did she; if she wanted it, so 
then did he. It was the parting of two mature people who saw that 
it was not evil to part, nor necessarily good to remain together. Each 
might be happier in his own life. Both knew they might not be as 
happy together. 

Carlson, of course, felt it would be better not to continue. As al- 
ways, he had an intransigent romanticism which forced itself on 
him regardless of what he might lose. This romanticism which, in 
his green youth, took the form of feeling committed to marry a girl 
because he had kissed her, now in his maturity became an unarguable 
faith that a man can find absolute and lasting personal happiness. 

As in the other parts of his life, his mind and heart could not feel 
alive with half measures. If he could risk a career because he would 


not compromise with an intellectual conviction, how could he do 
less in the profoundest segment of his personal life? 
They parted, and in 1943 the divorce became final. 

On April 28, 1941 his commission in the Marine Corps Reserve 
was forwarded to him at Plymouth; on May 2nd he asked for active 
duty, and by the twenty-fifth he was ordered to Camp Elliot, San 
Diego, to become Operations and Intelligence officer of the Second 

He was back in the green uniform of the Marines. 

He was with his old friends, and those who were really friends 
like Major Bill Bales pretended that the resignation hadn't hap- 
pened at all. 

And it was good to be near his son, Evans, Jr., for the first time in 
years. Evans, Jr. was in the Marine Reserve, too, and would soon 
be stationed near his father. He had just been married to Jeanne 
Gaughan of San Francisco whom, in a letter to his father, Carlson 
described as "an unusually fine girl, tall, slender, attractive and 
possessed of a quiet, well-balanced judgment. Evans, Jr. is also more 
quiet and more mature now. He is a fine boy." 

Father and son, both reserved, both saying little of their deepest 
feelings, treated each other as if nothing had intervened, no time, no 
distance, no age. They met like two good friends after a long 

At Camp Elliot Carlson began by sending memos to the Com- 
mandant volunteering for service if and when commando groups 
were to be activated. As a result, he was offered a chance to go to 
England to observe the British Commandoes. His reply was that he 
had already studied similar tactics in the Guardia Nacional in Nica- 
ragua and with the Chinese. 

He followed this up, as it has already been related, with a bar- 
rage of plans for setting up a special Marine Raider unit similar to 
the Commandoes. 

During the summer and fall of 1941, he suggested several inno- 
vations in his own regiment. Noticing, for example, that on one 
maneuver it required the laying of three hundred miles of wire 

Carlson with his son, Evans, now Captain USMC 
On the beach at Guadalcanal after the trek of the Raiders. December 6, 1942 

Official Photo U.S. Navy 

Captain (now Commodore) Morton D. Willcutts (MC) USN, 

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Carlson and Colonel 

James Roosevelt 


to maintain communications during an advance of a mile and a 
half, he argued that radio should be used. "In a war against the Jap," 
he said, "we won't have time to lay wire." 

He also called for the manufacture of a compact ration. Men 
must be able to carry enough to sustain themselves without being 

Some of his fellow officers, in those pre-Pearl Harbor days, thought 
he was mildly demented. 

As for his Raider idea, it did not seem that he was getting any- 

On the morning of December 7, Carlson left his home in La 
Jolla, having nothing else to do on that Sunday, and drove over 
to Camp Elliot to see if there was any news. The StafT Duty officer 
said that nothing had come in. They talked a few minutes and 
Carlson got into his car and drove to the camp gates. The sentry 
stopped him. 

"All leaves canceled, sir," he said, and his voice trembled. "The 
Japs attacked Pearl Harbor. This is no drill." 

Carlson returned immediately to the StafT Duty officer, who 
showed him the dispatch which had come in a minute or two after 
Carlson had left. 

Within a half-hour the camp buzzed with excited staff officers. 
The war plan which would tell them what to do was in a safe at 
the Marine Corps Base about fifteen miles away, and the safe was 
on a time lock and couldn't be opened until eight o'clock the next 

Confusion was augmented by the lack of knowledge as to who 
had the responsibility for defending Southern California. Local 
Army and Navy headquarters didn't know, and apparently weren't 
doing anything. By nightfall, Major General Clayton B. Vogel, 
Marine Area Commander, decided to act. He called in Army and 
Navy consultants, and within a few hours troops were on guard at 
the Consolidated Aircraft Plant in San Diego, in Coronado, along 
the Strand, and on the beaches as far north as Oceanside, fifty miles 
up the coast. 


Later Major General Joe Stilwell took over the job. Carlson saw 
him for the first time since China when the General walked into 
Vogel's office. The two men, both old campaigners for a unified 
China and both early warriors against the Japanese, shook hands, 
said hello, and then, in a very human and bitter humor, laughed 
out loud. 

Two months later, on February 5, 1942, word came that the First 
Separate Battalion, Second Marine Division, was to be organized 
immediately. That was what the Raiders were called at first. 

In April the battalion under its right name, Second Raider Bat- 
talion, sailed for Hawaii. Four months later came Makin. 

But Carlson's Raiders and Gung Ho were not yet fully tested 
at Makin. Not until November 1942 would Carlson himself be 
satisfied. Not until Guadalcanal. 

Part Five 


The Raiders tell their story 

On November 4, 1942 a task force lay off the Solomon Island, 
Guadalcanal, in a heavy rain. In the officers' wardroom of a trans- 
port, Carlson, pipe in mouth, steaming up smoke like wet leaves 
burning, was writing a letter to his father and sister: 

Another one of these zero hours. First Makin. Now some- 
where else. Always there is the same suspense the wonder- 
ing about the shape events will take when the landing occurs. 
From the standpoint of pure adventure there is nothing to 
equal it. But the issues at stake place this above sensational 

Well, the morrow will tell the tale. I never cross bridges 
till I come to them and I try never to avoid a crossing when 
it faces me. 

I am really more at peace with myself now than I have 
ever been. Not that I am satisfied with my work or that 
I feel that my work is done. Far from it. But my conscience 
is clear. I have been honest in my effort. And I have tried 
to follow the inner light. My faith in Divine guidance is su- 
preme. And so I await the outcome of each dangerous epi- 
sode with a certain serenity. Planning and organizing arc 
as thorough as I can make them. The men have been in- 
doctrinated and trained. Thenceforth we are in God's hands. 
I must exercise patience and act according to His directions. 
You know I love and adore you both. God bless and keep 


you. Sometime ago I sent you a letter marked to be opened 
only in the event of my death. Please place it in a good hot 
fire without opening it. I'm sending you another to replace it. 

But before he had a chance to write it, word came from the Task 
Force Commander to start loading the boats for the landing. 

Raiders, talking of Guadalcanal, tell the story like this: 
On August yth, a few days before we left Pearl Harbor for the 
Makin Raid, the Marine First Division under Major General 
Vandegrift landed on Guadalcanal and quickly captured an air 
strip which was soon re-named Henderson Field. For the next three 
months the battle for Guadalcanal was like trying to plug eleven 
holes in a dike with ten fingers. The First Division had to defend 
Henderson Field against frontal assault, and at the same time keep 
Jap artillery out of range of our transport, bombing, and fighter 
planes that had no other place to land. In addition, they had to 
destroy the enemy elsewhere on the island before his reinforcements 
overwhelmed us. When our boys pushed out in one direction, the 
Japanese moved in from another. If Vandegrift threw troops against 
Jap landing parties at one end of the Island, he weakened his defense 
of Henderson Field in the middle of the Island. If he tried to destroy 
a strong enemy gun position one place, the Jap could land un- 
opposed elsewhere. 

August and September and October were rugged months. No- 
vember looked brighter. Our fleet had somewhat cleared the seas 
near by. The perimeter of Henderson Field had been enlarged. 
Jap attacks, still furious, did not come with the old regularity. Yet 
our command did not yet know what was going on in the interior 
of the island, behind the Jap lines where as yet few or none of our 
forces had penetrated. Our command did not know, for example, 
how many Japs lay in wait behind the mountain ranges and in the 
jungles; where the trails were which led east and west through the 
backbone of the island and across which Jap reserves were moved; 
nor just where were certain artillery positions called "Pistol Pete" 
from which Henderson Field was still being shelled. 


The dike was slowly being plugged, but no one knew where 
new holes might come, and how much of the flood might pour 

During the months up to November we (the Raiders say) were 
biting our nails doing nothing at Espiritu Santo, about six hundred 
miles to the east. After Makin we had had a week of luxury at the 
Royal Hawaiian Hotel with the crews of the Nautilus and Argonaut, 
and then were sent to Espiritu Santo for more training as part of the 
floating reserve of Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner's Amphibious 
Task Force. 

We thought we'd never see action again. Even the Old Man 
despaired. He'd come to the Friday night Ciing Ho meetings and 
tell us he had seen Nimitz or Turner, and that things might cook 
up for us soon. But he'd say it week after week, and still we were 
doing nothing but train. 

But one night, his lean face looking like a farmer's who had just 
won a prize at the State Fair, he told us that orders had come. It 
wouldn't be much doing. We were to land on Guadalcanal near the 
little town of Aola where Army engineers and Navy construction 
workers were to start building another air strip. We would secure 
the beach head for them and then leave. It wasn't a big opera- 
tion; we'd probably not meet any enemy and be back on the 
transports in twenty-four hours, and for that reason he would only 
take two companies with him. 

His other four companies who did not go swore privately at the 
Old Man. 

It was just as he said it would be for a while. On November 4 
we landed, carved out the beach head without opposition, and waited 
in an angry rain for Higgins boats to take us back to the transports 
the same evening. 

But out of the rain hummed a scout plane, one of our own. It 
passed the beach several times, signaled with a beacon that it was 
going to drop a message; dropped it. 

It was from Vandegrift. Jap reinforcements had just landed near 
the Metapona River, about fifteen miles to the west, and between us 
and Henderson Field. Other Marine forces were trying to destroy 


them; Vandegrift's orders to the Raiders were to push through the 
jungle and help. The other four companies of the Raiders at Espiritu 
Santo had been ordered to come to Guadalcanal to fill out the 

Now everybody was happy. 

Lieutenant Jack Miller was happy. He had begged to go to 
Makin but an arm broken in training had prevented him. Now he 
was in it. "Transport" Maghakian was happy. The bullet hole in 
his right wrist punctured at Makin was almost healed, though he 
still wore it in a light sling. But he could do with his left hand what- 
ever was needed to be done. Captain Bill Schwerin was happy, too. 
It was his father who in 1922 had sworn the Old Man in, and it 
was the workings of plain ordinary justice to be having duty with 
Carlson. But perhaps the happiest was Carlson's son, Lieutenant 
Evans C. Carlson, who had joined us a couple of months before. 
Now he could show what he was good for; now came the turn of 
the war when he could teach the Old Man that he was a soldier in 
his own right, to take, to give, to obey orders, and most of all, to 
win his father's approval. He would rather die, let the Japs get him, 
than not have the Old Man's okay on him (the Raiders say). 1 

Happy we were; yet "happy" is not quite the word. No one is 
happy going into a fire-fight with the enemy; nor glimpsing the 
strange green jungle, the thick hills behind them, the Solomon 
Island terrain, out of the mind, a faraway crazy spot on the map, 
the last place in the world to live and the last place in the world to 
die. But we were trained to the hair, volunteers for a suicide bat- 
talion; we felt we'd damned better get our action in quick and get 
it over. Espiritu Santo was worse, in the imagination, than any 
jungle or Jap ambush. It was the contrast that made the prospective 
operations a "happy" thought. 

We who lived through Guadalcanal (the Raiders say) remember 
it as a kind of wild fantasy which lasted thirty-one days. 

First, there was the jungle, the Siamese-joined trees, the thick- 
ness, the damp, rotting smell, skeins of rootless branches, spider 

* Carlson's son won the Silver Star for bravery. 


webs of brush tying us up like flies as we passed, the grasping vines 
running after us like beggars who won't be turned away. And the 
jungle noise; the crazy, nameless birds, the cracked grunts of rotting 
wood breaking and falling, the sharp senseless break of a branch 
in the night when the same sound meant an enemy sniper. And the 
jungle crawlers the six-inch land crabs, the foot-long lizards. 

Day after day we marched warily along the broken trails, walk- 
ing as if every piece of earth beneath us had been mined. Five paces 
ahead was a Raider, five paces behind was another Raider and all 
else, everywhere, on the top of your head in the trees, underfoot, 
down at the sides in the screen of brush, in your thighs and back 
and on your neck that suddenly grew as large as a horse was the 
enemy. You held your breath until your chest ached. And then sud- 
denly on some days you smellcd something wonderfully familiar 
the thin smoke of a pipe still drifting in the humid air. The Old 
Man's pipe; the wonderful, stinking, large-bowl pipe. We could 
imagine him way up front he was always up with the point 
stalking ahead like an Indian scout, taking a single puff every 
couple of paces, the smoke dribbling slowly out his prcsscd-togcther 
lips, curling up over his head, down the line to us. The god-damned 
smoke made us feel good. The Old Man was out of sight but not 
out of mind. 

He never rested. That's what made us wonder. He marched with 
a full pack like the rest of us, but when we rested he stood up 
studying a map or talking with the company commanders or he 
walked off to do a little scouting of his own. 

We never heard him say he was tired, so how could we com- 
plain ? 

Private Al Flores told us a story. 

Flores was carrying a bag of grenades when the word came 
through to withdraw. Flores left the bag against a tree and joined 
his platoon. The next day they moved ahead again, and Flores saw 
the bag where he had left it. He wasn't sure he ought to pick it up. 
It might have been booby-trapped. He asked the Old Man's per- 
mission. Carlson looked at Flores as if he were trying to read some- 


thing on his face. Then he said never mind. And while Flores 
watched, feeling ashamed of hesitating, the Old Man went over to 
the bag and looked at it closely, then picked it up and gave it back 
to Flores. 

"If you want to know how we did Guadalcanal," Al Flores said, 
"it's because of the Old Man's absolute fearlessness." 

He was always cool as lettuce (the Raiders say). When the man 
who leads you has no fear, you feel safe. We loved him because so 
few of us were killed. 

The awful hunger was a bad dream of its own. 

We had started out from Aola with four days' rations, rice, bacon, 
tea, salt, sugar, raisins. New rations were brought up to us or dropped 
by plane but the variety of food was not changed, except that 
from the tenth day on, each man received a daily bar of vitaminized 
chocolate. Twice a wild steer was found and butchered for the whole 
Battalion, but most of us vomited out the meat. For a month, it was 
raisins, tea, bacon, salt, sugar, rice. Ah, rice! That was a worse dream 
than the running pain in the empty belly. Polished rice, unpolished, 
coarse Jap rice, rice boiled, rice fried, rice raw, rice mixed with salt, 
rice with sugar, rice with bacon, rice with chocolate, rice with tea, 
rice with rice! 

"God damn rice, Colonel!" we said to him when he came by. 
"We're hungry!" 

He would talk to us for a while, telling us the old things we had 
heard before. Gung Ho; the reason for being here; that he had 
promised nothing but privation. "I told you the day would come 
when our only food would be the rice we took from the bodies of 
dead Japs." Then he informed us that Vandegrift had sent word 
that we were to clean up the Japs who had succeeded in filtering 
through our lines at the Metapona River. "And we've got to find the 
trail that runs from east to west on which the Japs shuttle their 
reserves; and maybe, if we're lucky, we'll find and knock out Tistol 
Pete.' " He told us of the importance of winning Guadalcanal; where 
it fitted into the strategy of the Pacific offensive, with our campaign 
in North Africa, with the Russian defense of Stalingrad. 


When he left us one of the men said, "Goddam! Here we are 
hungry as hell, and the Old Man gives us speeches." 

"Second only to a good square meal," another man said, "I'd just 
as soon hear him speak." 

A few laughed at that but many of us were thinking back. 

"Ethical indoctrination . . ." one of us said slowly, playing with 
the words and their meanings. And as if finding a new truth, he 
added, "We damn well have to be indoctrinated to like this busi- 

A heavy rain started and the men grunted and shivered and tried 
to find dry places under the trees. 

Some of us huddled over a small smoking fire to keep it going. 
We wanted some hot water for tea and coffee. The rain beat on the 
roof of our backs. 

When Armistice Day came along, it went by pretty much like all 
the other days. Some of Captain Dick Washburn's company am- 
bushed Japs swimming in the Lunga and killed about thirty. The 
rest of us killed about a hundred and thirty elsewhere. 

But we didn't know until much later that on that day across 
the world a man named Raymond Swing was talking about us 
through a microphone in a Washington, D. C. radio station. The 
whole country heard him. 

Mr. Swing told about the Old Man's life, how he talked around 
the country before the war asking for understanding of China. He 
had a personality so sincere, Mr. Swing said, that it filled a room, 
so that he awoke confidence and made friends, not by his gifts but 
with his character. 

And he told about the Raiders, and how there was no other 
group of fighting men more inspiring because we knew why we 
were fighting. He said that we could have a genuine Armistice Day 
if all the civilians back home had some of our Gung Ho. 

About six weeks after the broadcast hundreds of the boys got 
letters from their folks telling how proud they were to hear 
Mr. Swing talk about us that way. It made us feel good because we 
were not being forgotten. 


Once there was something mighty precious stolen. A tin can. 
That's all. But that's everything. For with a tin can a man could 
make coffee at the same time he was warming his rice and bacon 
in his helmet. A tin can was a million dollars in the jungle. 

"A tin can has been stolen," the Old Man said. 

We were silent. One terrible son-of-a-bitch wasn't Gung Ho. Only 
one stinking, bad apple! 

"Here's what I am going to do," the Old Man said slowly. "The 
next man accused of stealing a tin can I'm going to bring up before 
the men in his company. I'm not going to court-martial him. You 
are. We'll get the facts and the evidence. If you tell me to shoot him, 
I'll shoot him." 

The Old Man stopped there and looked at us. We were still feel- 
ing angry. It was our war, our battalion, our Gung Ho. He'd put the 
responsibility on us. 

The Old Man went his way, and we were alone. The rain beat 
down like a rat race. 

There was no more of anything ever stolen again. 

With the hunger and the Jap ambushes and the jungle and the 
rain and the festering sores and the nerves on edge, went diseases. 
Malaria moved in on us (the Raiders say) like flies on a dead horse. 
Two hundred and twenty-five men got dengue fever, dysentery, 
malaria, ringworm and other illnesses which the docs and corpsmen 
call jungle rot. We got most of that kind sleeping in soggy mud or 
crawling through a half-dozen rivers every day. When we were 
sick, so sick we couldn't stand, we reported it and were sent back 
to Aola. The Old Man kept telling us: "If you can't make it, don't 
go on. We'll send you back. There's no disgrace." 

We crossed behind the Japs from Aola to Mombula, into and 
through places with Solomon Island names that sounded like 
jungle noises: Binu, Reko, Asamana, Gegenda, Kema, Tasimboko, 
Malimbu, Tenaru, Lunga, Mombula. We met the enemy at least 
once a day. Sometimes twice; fought in rivers and on riverbanks, 
grassy knolls, behind trees, in the mud, ambushed, were ambushed, 
enveloped the enemy, were enveloped by him, and enveloped the 


envclopers. We fought in the dark and in the rutted jungle, and we 
might have killed our own men if we did not keep yelling, Hi, 
Raider! Hi, Raider! to say who we were. 

Day after day we followed the Old Man's jungle-guerrilla tactics, 
putting into practice his theory of the mobile fire team. The team 
worked wonders. Toward evening we'd make a base; then next 
morning fan out patrols to find the enemy as well as the site of a 
forward base. The Old Man would okay it, and we'd all move up 
to it. The next day would be the same. 

On the night of the twenty-eighth a runner from Captain 
Schwerin's company told the Colonel that they thought they had 
found traces of "Pistol Pete" on a sharp ridge between the Tcnaru 
and Lunga Rivers. This was the artillery which kept shelling 
Henderson Field and which Naval guns and dive bombers had failed 
to find and destroy. The next day the Old Man led the whole bat- 
talion over the ridge. We needed ropes to pull each other up over 
the slippery muddy sides of the ridge. When we got to the top 
some of us followed a Jap telephone wire clown a narrow ravine 
which came out into a large enemy bivouac on the bank of the 
Lunga. It was deserted. But we found what we had been looking 
f or "Pistol Pete." There were two .75^, plus an ami-tank .37 mm., 
with about sixty-five rounds for both. We destroyed everything. 

It was worth the jungle and the rain and the damned rations and 
the fellows we left buried on the trails. 

On December 2 we were at the foot of Mombula, or as it was 
called by us, Mount Austen. It wasn't really a mountain, perhaps 
no more than fifteen hundred feet, but with sides like cliffs. It over- 
looked Henderson Field and it was in enemy hands and a constant 

The Old Man called all of us together, the remnants of our bat- 
talion, about six hundred half-starved, sick men with layers of mud 
on their combat dungarees from the swamps they had crossed or 
slept in. We were tired; we wanted to get the hell out of the jungle; 
we thought he was going to tell us that the time had come for us 
to return to our base; that it was all over. 


He looked like a scarecrow when he stood up to talk. He looked 
like we looked. We suddenly remembered that pipe smoke we had 
caught on the trail. He was smoking it again. 

We waited for the Old Man to say, "Now we go home." 

"I've just received an order from General Vandegrift to return our 
battalion to Henderson Field," he said. 

We cheered a little bit. The jungle deadened the sound. 

"There are two ways of getting to Henderson Field from here. We 
can go back the way we came, across the Tenaru River. Or we can 
climb over Mount Austen, and then climb down again right onto 

We wondered what way he was going to take. The mountain was 
the tougher route; we would've wanted the Tenaru. 

"A patrol has just reported to me that on the top of Mount Austen, 
in a spider web of ridges, is a very strong Jap position." 

Somewhere near by a tree limb cracked sharply. We grabbed our 
weapons like a drowning man grabs for a raft. Someone called 
out softly that it was a tree. 

The Old Man waited until we relaxed again. 

"The Jap position is unoccupied!' 1 

The way he underlined the words tipped us off. 

"If we get up there in a hurry, we can take those positions; we 
can relieve the pressure on Henderson Field. We can find out how 
strong the enemy is there. This will help our command to make 
a more accurate estimate of the situation. It may mean cutting down 
the time it will take to finish up Guadalcanal. It would be a good 
thing, wouldn't it?" 

We were tired. Sure, it would be a good thing, but why us ? Why 
not some of the dogfaces from the i64th Army? Why not Edson's 
Raiders, the so-called First Raider Battalion? (We never forgave 
them for being called the "First," when we were the First. But 
Headquarters gives even numbers to all West Coast units, and 
odd numbers to the East Coast. Edson formed his battalion after us 
but in the East; so we were the Second and they were the First.) 

"It is a good thing," the Old Man went on quietly. "We're going 
to do it because it's important, because we're fitted to do it and in a 


position to do it. C, D and E Companies, under the command of 
Captain Washburn, will return the Tenaru way. They've been out 
the longest. The other Companies, A, B and F are still pretty fresh." 

He smiled when he said that. We all looked beaten down, no 
matter what company we were in. But it was true that A, B and F 
had had the fewest casualties and sick men. We knew that it didn't 
make any difference what companies he picked. We'd all have gone 
if it had been a volunteer job. Some of us had heard the Old Man 
tell Washburn that he'd go over Mount Austen alone if he had to. 

The Old Man talked a few minutes more, thanking us for doing a 
fine job. It seemed a little funny. It was almost a Friday night 
Gung Ho meeting right in the middle of a Solomon Island jungle. 
The Old Man must have felt that way, too, because as the three 
companies that were to go the Tenaru way formed ranks, Carlson 
called out, "Let's sing 'Onward, Christian Soldiers/ " 

It was right. That's what we wanted. 

"Onward, Christian soldiers," we sang, "marching as to war . . ." 
We didn't care whether or not the Japs heard us. We felt good 

The columns separated, and in the thick brush were soon lost to 
sight. But we could hear each other sing for quite a while to come. 

There wasn't anything harder than the climb up Mount Austen, 
for we were climbing up almost at ninety degrees into enemy coun- 
try into certain enemy terrain. The rain made the eartli slippery and 
the brush hard to hold; but on top was the Jap position we hoped 
was still unoccupied. We had to get there in a hurry to win surprise. 

Near the top the Old Man saw some footprints. He whispered to 
the rest of his patrol led by Lieutenant Jack Miller to take a look. 
They were Jap footprints. 

"We've got to hurry," the Old Man told Miller. 

A few minutes later Jack Miller's patrol found the Jap positions at 
the top, a series of emplacements running out along the ridges like 
spokes from a hub. 

We moved in and took the positions. Then up from the other side 
we saw Japs. They didn't know we were waiting for them. Sud- 
denly their leading men stopped, and started to deploy. One of our 


men opened fire and killed three in the first burst. After a while they 
set their mortars on us, plus machine guns and automatic rifles. 
The Old Man ordered a double envelopment with a squad on each 
flank of the enemy. But the Jap infiltrated and soon our flankers 
were outflanked. The Old Man ordered a platoon to flank the enemy 
flankers, but not being satisfied with that, he told them to move 
to the rear of the enemy and surround them. As the battle report 
put it: "This was accomplished in due course." 

But the battle reports say nothing about the darkness of the brush 
when you don't know who is behind the next tree and if there is a 
suspicious shadow or noise, you try to cut the tree down and the 
man behind it with a saw of bullets. 

There were some casualties. 

"Transport" Maghakian came bouncing down to the side of the 
ridge during the early part of the fire fight. 

"I got hit in my arm!" he yelled disgustedly. 

"In the same arm again?" the Old Man asked. 

"No. The other one! Why don't I learn not to point!" 

It wasn't funny, but those who heard him laughed. 

Jack Miller was badly hurt. The Old Man was worried about 
him, but the docs thought he'd live. 

We made a dry camp that night, meaning that we had no water. 
But we had the enemy position. 

The Old Man spoke to Miller a little, encouraging him. 

Early the next morning, Company B took the point, and only 
five hundred yards down the mountain were ambushed. Three men 
killed, and one mortally wounded. The wounded boy was Steve Van 
Buren from Chicago, a nice lad, skinny and blonde and too young. 

On the way down, after the ambushers were flanked and beaten 
back, Jack Miller died. We buried him off the trail with the smell of 
Japs all around us. The Old Man took out the small American flag 
he carried in his pack and put it on Miller's body and said the 
prayer : 

"Father, accept this body of Jack Miller to Thine own . . . Thou 
knowest he knew the reasons for which he fought. Give him peace. 


There wasn't much time for a long prayer. 

We finished the descent without further contact, though there 
were signs of the enemy all the way down. 

When we marched into the Division Area at Henderson Field, 
some of the security guard saw us first and yelled, "My God, walk- 
ing skeletons!" We marched right by them and through the Area, 
and five miles beyond to our base. They could've given us trucks, 
but they didn't and we marched. Everyone who saw us said, 
"There goes Carlson's Raiders." We felt very tired but also very 

This is what we had done. We had spent a month in the jungle, 
had marched one hundred and fifty miles, met the enemy daily, 
captured and destroyed his guns and ammunition and food and 
medical supplies; we reassured the command that nothing im- 
portant was going on in the Jap interior; we mapped out his 
east-west route; we destroyed "Pistol Pete," and finally we 
killed officially 488 Japs, but the Seabees who went in later to 
bury them said we killed 700. For all this, we lost 17 men, and 17 

And that's why we loved Carlson because we could kill the 
enemy 40 to i. 

But we did more. We proved that we could live on the land, in- 
dependent of the usual supply lines. We proved that we could get 
along with each other and with our officers. We proved that it was 
right for the Old Man to warn us it would be hard, for then we ex- 
pected nothing but the worst. We proved that we would get along 
with the natives. At times we had as many as fifty to a hundred 
of them working as guides and scouts. We went Gung Ho together 
even though they were black-skinned and strange to us. We shared 
our food and sleeping places. We were men and they were men. 
And this Gung Ho between us saved our lives, for during the 
month when we marched along trails that were too complicated 
for our own scouts and primitive maps, these Melanesians took our 
hands and led us. Only twice were we surprised and ambushed. 
On Guadalcanal that was extraordinary. And perhaps the test of it 
all was that out of a thousand men only one only one got 


combat fatigue, was a psychiatric case. And on Guadalcanal that too 
was extraordinary. 

And we learned the enemy. His tricks, his faults, his strength. 
And we proved that the Raiders Gung Ho Raiders could do any 
job that had to be done in the Pacific. 

So the Raiders tell their story. 

There is more that the Raiders say. 

As we did after Makin, the Old Man went over our operations 
with us and we told him what we thought about improving the bat- 
talion, and he told us what he thought about improving ourselves. 

And as before, we held a memorial for the seventeen comrades 
we buried along the back-country Solomon Island trails. 

It was held at our base in Espiritu Santo. The Old Man looked 
thinner than ever. He read us his speech, his voice coming out slow 
and deep. It made us feel like hell. 

"It is not given to us," he said, "to know the process by which 
certain of us are chosen for sacrifice while others remain. We can 
only rest our faith in the infinite wisdom of the Supreme Being 
who guides our destinies. As I ponder the names of those we honor 
it seems to me as if the most worthy among us are selected for 
separation in this way. These comrades of ours also loved life. Only 
yesterday their voices were heard among us as they joined in our 
songs, rejoiced over letters from home. . . . They knew the nature 
of the risk they took. But they knew also that human progress in- 
evitably entails human sacrifice." 

God, we thought, can nothing ever come easy? Do we have to go 
on making human sacrifices, being killed, being taken away from 
our people ? 

"What of the future for those of us who remain?" the Old Man 
asked for us. "The war is not yet won; the enemy is still strong; 
there are incontrovertible signs that he realizes he has met his 
match, but his power has still to be utterly crushed before we can 
count our job done and our institutions secure. Our course is clear. 
It is for us at this moment with the memory of the sacrifices of our 


brothers still fresh, to dedicate again our hearts, our minds and our 
bodies to the great task that lies ahead. The future of America yes, 
the future condition of all peoples, rests in our hands. 

"We must go further and dedicate ourselves also to the monu- 
mental task of assuring that the peace which follows this holocaust 
will be a just and equitable and conclusive peace. And beyond lies 
the mission of making certain that the social order which we be- 
queath to our sons and daughters is truly based on the four freedoms 
for which these men died. Any resolution less than this will spell 
betrayal of the faith which these staunch comrades reposed in us." 

The Old Man turned to the Generals and Admirals who were 
his guests and then back to us. 

"As a token of our affection and admiration," he said, "and as an 
earnest of our intention to so dedicate ourselves, let us rise and 
repeat in unison the final Raider benediction: 

"We salute you, comrades . . ." 

"We salute you, comrades? we said softly. Across the field a bull- 
dozer man started its motors; raced them for a moment; then cut 
them off. 

"As Raiders, as Marines . . ." 

"As Raiders, as Marines . . ." 

"As Americans, as men . . ." 

"As Americans, as men . . ." 

The Old Man seemed to be looking into all our faces. "God bless 

"God bless you" 

And some of us underlined the word you, for we felt that way then 
about the Old Man. 

Later we were proud to hear that the Old Man was given his third 
Navy Cross by Admiral Halsey. We felt he ought to have received 
the Congressional Medal of Honor but three Navy Crosses are all 
right too. We were proud, too, when so many others of us received 
Navy Crosses, Silver Stars, Bronze Stars and so on. We were a 


much decorated outfit. Perhaps we were proudest of the citation 
which the whole battalion received from General Vandegrift, Com- 
mander of the First Division. The Old Man read it aloud to us and 
said that the only kind of reward which meant anything was when 
everybody got it. 

A few weeks after that word came to us that the Old Man's eulogy 
had made quite a stir. Newspaper correspondents told us that 
Admiral Nimitz said it was the best sermon he had ever heard. The 
New Yor^ Times wrote an editorial, quoting it at great length. And 
the Office of War Information broadcast it to the troops overseas in 
a recording done by Frederic March, the actor. This broadcast was 
then translated into German, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, 
Afrikaans, Arabic, Greek and Jugoslavic, and beamed to all the 
world to show them that we knew what we were fighting the war 
for. At least some of us knew. 

But things were much too good for us after Guadalcanal. Every- 
body made a fuss over us and we were crossing our fingers. Sooner 
or later, the payoff must come. We had crowded our luck too far. 

It did happen to us; we got a bad deal, a really bad deal. We and 
the Old Man. And some of us who didn't understand the whys and 
wherefores blamed the Old Man for it. 


"Throw away your boots and knives . . ." 

With thirty-one days of combat behind them, and with malaria, 
jaundice and dengue fever having cut down many of his men, Carl- 
son requested from the High Command a long period of rest for 
his battalion. And so they were sent to New Zealand with the under- 
standing they would be there for at least a month. And with that 

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understanding, went another: that the Battalion might be sent back 
to the States for further training and replacements. 

No one could stop the men and officers from making the under- 
standing seem like a promise. 

They all believed that they were going home soon. 

When Secretary of the Navy Knox addressed them before they 
left for New Zealand, and began his speech with: "Now I must 
take you back " they cheered. The Secretary, a little puzzled, 
continued: "I must take you back with me to the days of Teddy 
Roosevelt." There were few cheers after that. 

Down in Wellington the boys made up for lost time. But Carlson 
didn't like the idea of being a Commanding Officer when he was 
on vacation. 

I can't have any fun [he wrote to Karen in the early part 
of 1943]. Everyone stands off as though I were untouchable. 
Gosh, my officers and men are having a swell time while I 
sit around the lobby or my room talking to old ladies and 
chambermaids. Oh yes, I ate with the General, and everyone 
was terribly nice and congratulatory, and said how proud 
they were of us. My thought was, "Nuts." Up in Guadalcanal 
the Marines talk of what they call the "George" medal. To 
be awarded to those who fall in the category of "George." 
You know, "Let George do it." A highly exclusive club. 

They had counted on a rest in New Zealand for thirty days. 
And then someone in the rearmost echelon of the First Marine 
Amphibious Corps, headquarters of all the Marines in the Pacific 
at that time, forgetful of the Raiders' depletion, thought they could 
be used for a spearhead attack on New Georgia. 

At the end of seven days the Battalion was ordered back to 
Espiritu Santo. 

There was hell in the ranks. The one thing which shattered the 
men most was that it seemed to them that other outfits who had 
done less than they were getting their periods of rest. They felt the 
normal grievances of combat soldiers against their officers, the high 
command, and the highest command. They were convinced that 
their right to rest was being taken from them for discriminatory 


reasons. No one liked the Raiders, they concluded, because the 
Raiders had done so well and therefore had received more publicity 
than other units. Their record, their fame, their spirit, their morale, 
their Gung Ho was being held against them. 

That was their complaint, and most of it was justified. 

They didn't really know how justified. 

Already word had gone back and forth from Washington to the 
Pacific that something had to be done with Carlson's Raiders. They 
were being made too much of; it was getting so that people in the 
States thought of Carlson's Raiders instead of the Marine Corps. 
Too much publicity; too many editorials; too many radio speeches 
like Raymond Swing's in which it seemed that without Gung Ho 
no Marine outfit could be any good. 

None of this was official. No one sat down in Headquarters and 
wrote a report to the effect that Carlson's Raiders had better be 
"handled." But the word got around nonetheless. Carlson and his 
men knew that word was getting around. They had heard officers 
say that the goddam Raiders were getting too goddam arrogant; 
that they thought they owned the Corps; that they were all a bunch 
of publicity hounds, and sooner or later they would have something 
done to them. 

On a higher level the complaint went: All Marines should be as 
good as Raiders. It was not conducive to the efficiency of the Corps 
to have specialized outfits. If Headquarters doesn't watch out, the 
whole Marine Corps will be a confused collection of prima donna 

Carlson saw it coming. He was certain that soon he might be de- 
prived of his battalion, and his battalion of Gung Ho. 

First, there was the matter of new Raider battalions. Roosevelt 
was sent back to the States to organize one; this would make the 
fourth . . . Colonel Mcrrit Edson and Colonel Harry Liversedge 
had their own. There was nothing, of course, that could be said 
against forming new Raider outfits. But why were they being 
activated at the same time that ranking officers were outspoken in 
their demands that all special units be dissolved? 

Second, there was the question of the A and B motors. After 


Makin Carlson recommended again that the B be substituted for 
the A. Nothing had been done except that a new series of tests of 
both motors was ordered, as if they had not already been tested 
countless times. This seemed to Carlson to be a tragic ignoring of the 
experiences of field commanders, and he protested strongly in a let- 
ter to Major General C. B. Vogel, Commander of the First Marine 
Amphibious Corps and the Senior Marine General in the Pacific. 
Carlson stated that he was deeply disturbed by the way Headquar- 
ters, Marine Corps, was continuing to resist change in matters which 
affected the battle efficiency of Marine units and jeopardized the 
lives of men. He mentioned specifically the question of the motors, 
naming names and giving dates as to their trials and failures. He 
reminded General Vogcl that he himself had recommended to Head- 
quarters that one motor be given precedence over the other. Gen- 
eral Vandegrift of the First Marine Division had also made a simi- 
lar recommendation. Yet, despite these, Headquarters continued to 
delay the delivery to the field of reliable motors and asked for further 

Carlson went on to criticize the delay in getting a satisfactory 
portable radio for combat units which would increase their mobility 
and coordination. 

Other examples of Headquarters' proscrastination, he pointed out 
to the General, were its reluctance to increase the fire power of in- 
fantry units and to work out a satisfactory ration for mobile combat 

"It is my belief," Carlson wrote Vogel, "that any officer, having 
knowledge of obstacles or conditions which militate against the vig- 
orous and intelligent prosecution of the war, is remiss in his obliga- 
tions as an officer and as a loyal citizen if he does not do all within his 
power to remove such obstacles and correct such conditions. It is in 
this spirit that I write. Pride, prejudice, sentiment and even considera- 
tions of personal security cannot be permitted to stand in the way of 
an efficient and economic war effort." 

He said that he was prepared to make any sacrifice, even to ac- 
cepting a court-martial, if by so doing the necessary results could 
be obtained. 


No one took him up on his offer. 

He knew that such protests and such offers were not looked upon 
with favor. 

Third, there was the question of supplies essential to the health 
of his men. For almost a year they had been fighting or living under 
field conditions. No one minded. But now in Espiritu where they 
were to live indefinitely, the New Georgia campaign having been 
postponed, Carlson requested certain "comforts" for his men. He 
wanted lumber to make a semipermanent mess hall, and floors for 
tents, screening for openings, modest plumbing for "heads," pipe 
for water, showers and so on. He requisitioned these items only 
after he noticed that other units, recently arrived from the States, 
were being issued them. In addition, he had put in for Post Exchange 
supplies and a moving picture machine. None was forthcoming. 
Finally, it was always necessary to find and persuade a paymaster 
to pay the men. No other outfit seemed to have the same trouble. 

Requisition after requisition was sent to Headquarters, but noth- 
ing resulted. Carlson was forced to conclude and he said so in 
writing that his battalion was being discriminated against for 
undetermined causes. He admitted that he had been unable, for 
reasons outside his control, to get for his Raiders what other outfits 
received as their due. 

During February and March Carlson felt that he was fighting for 
the life of his battalion against enormous and ever-increasing odds. 

It was during February that Carlson addressed his men on the 
first anniversary of the organization of the battalion. In this speech 
he referred obliquely to the problems which confronted them: 

We humans are weak in faith, [he said]. Lack of adequate 
faith is the real cause of our failure to bring the Gung Ho 
spirit to its highest perfection. We lack faith in each other; 
we lack faith in the ability of the human being to discipline 
ourselves. Believe me, boys, faith can move mountains. Do 
you suppose these past months since we first came together 
have been without discouragement for me? I hesitate to tell 
you how low my spirits have been at times, or how thin my 
faith has worn. But never has it been completely extinguished. 


Many of you have been a great trial to me, both officers and 
men. But always, even in the darkest moments, my faith in 
your ultimate ability to master yourselves, my faith in your 
desire to do the right thing, has remained with me. My faith 
in the Tightness of the patterns for life and conduct which I 
have emphasized for you so frequently has kept me on the 
course. And time after time you have confirmed that faith. 2 

The men, beset by frustration and justifiable grievance, did not 
hide their feelings. Some of them began to use Gung Ho as a term 
of derision, and some began to accuse Carlson of being no different 
from other brass hats. 

There were words about Carlson spoken in the tents during this 
period which had never been spoken by his men before. Many of 
the men were convinced that all his talk had been a trick to get 
them to give more, work harder, sacrifice more. They held him 
responsible for their disappointments. 

In one sense Carlson deserved their bitterness. Because of a tough, 
almost irrational, loyalty to the Marine Corps he did not admit to 
his men that his requisitions and protests had gone unheeded. He 
resisted washing the dirty linen of the higher command in public. 
He should have told his men at the Gung Ho meetings what they 
were up against. And yet so strange and perverted is the indoctrina- 
tion of officers that even Carlson, at this time, felt that he would be 
reducing the general morale and dignity of the Corps by criticizing 
the higher echelons of command to his men. This was a mistake. 
He realized it too late. 

The Gung Ho meetings were bitter. 

"Why isn't something being done?" the men demanded. 

Carlson, who might have given them the detail of what he had 
tried to do, answered only in generalizations which seemed like 

"Some s.o.b. or a collection of s.o.b.'s," shouted a man, "are tryin* 
to ruin all our work. They talk big but they don't do anything. 
They make promises but they don't keep 'em." 

2 See Appendix i. 


"Corporal," Carlson replied, "you express my sentiments exactly." 

But his reply was not enough. The men wanted facts and relief. 
Carlson, depressed because he could not help them, protected the 
reputations of those who could. 

And now the open moves were being made. Carlson was called 
to Corps Headquarters and informed that a Raider Regiment was 
being organized to comprise the four Raider Battalions. The com- 
mander of the Regiment would be Colonel Harry Liversedge. 
Carlson was to be his Executive Officer. Lieutenant Colonel Alan 
Shapley would take over Carlson's Raiders. 

How simple it was. With Shapley in, Gung Ho would go. And 
Carlson's job as Executive Officer of the Regiment would mean 
that he would no longer have direct command of men, and would be 
in the unhappy position of executing orthodox policies over which 
he had no control and through which he would be contravening 
everything he had taught his men and had observed to be effective 
in training and battle. 

At Pacific Corps Headquarters, many officers expressed their sym- 
pathy to Carlson. "The high command is afraid of you, Carlson," 
they said. "You're too independent." 

Carlson took orders. He made no protest once they had been 
given to him. His heart was sick, his spirit rebelled, but no one 
heard him complain. 

Many of his men were off in submarine maneuvers at this time, 
and with them was Sergeant Jim Lucas, a Marine Corps combat 
correspondent and formerly a reporter on the Tulsa Tribune. Lucas 
had spent several weeks at the Raider camp and had become very 
close to the men. He had attended several Gung Ho meetings and 
heard the men debate such topics as, "The Kind of Social Order We 
Want after the War." He fell hard for the Gung Ho idea and 

In his book, Combat Correspondent, Lucas describes what hap- 
pened when the men returning from their exercises heard that 
Carlson was going to leave them : 

Tragedy awaited us. On shore, we learned that Colonel 
Carlson had been promoted to a more important command 


and was to leave his men. I stumbled with them up the beach, 
tears in their eyes, and heard them curse the fate that had 
robbed them of their old man. I sat in their tents and heard 
them cry like babies. 8 

On a clear day, it was April i, the Battalion was called together to 
witness the change of command. 

Carlson rose to speak to his men. For the first time since they had 
come together he did not feel like talking to them. Partly because 
he was feeling physically ill. He had had a fever for several days 
running; malaria was returning. And partly because there was 
nothing he could say to his men other than the whole truth a 
truth which would reduce their respect for their high leaders, he 
thought. This could not be done. 

Shapley was standing at his side as Carlson spoke. 

"I have been relieved of my command here," Carlson said. "I am 
taking over the job of Executive Officer of the Raider Regiment 
which will be headed by Colonel Liversedge. I am taking with me 
Captain Davis and Captain Plumley and Sergeant Schofield. Later 
there may be others." 

He paused. He wanted to say a few words about Gung Ho, 
asking his men to keep it alive, but he was no longer their leader. 
He had no further right to ask them to do anything. Shapley was 
their commander now. He could not presume on Shapley. He 
could not commit his men to any act or thought while they were 
under another commander. The responsibility of command was 
something he held to scrupulously. 

"Lieutenant Colonel Alan Shapley will be your new CO.," he 
said firmly. "I hope you will give him the loyalty you gave me." 

Carlson stepped down. This was farewell. He would never com- 
mand these men again, never share experiences with them as he 
had shared Makin and Guadalcanal. His eyes burnt with the dry 
tears of pride and regret. Much that he loved he was leaving. 

Shapley said a few polite words, praising the record of the Bat- 

8 Combat Correspondent, by James Lucas (New York: Rcynal and 
Hitchcock, 1944). 


talion, and then added that he had a few ideas of his own which he 
would communicate to the Battalion some other time. 

The next day, when Carlson had left for the hospital, Shaplcy 
called the men together. His speech was brief. 

He told them that he didn't know much about this Gung Ho 
business. If it was good, he'd keep it. If not, out it would go. He said 
that in all fairness he wanted them to know his own point of view. 
He wasn't going to have a boy-scout outfit. He expected his men to 
be Marines, to salute, to go through regular channels of command, 
and to abide by the Marine Corps regular setup. He was going to 
do away with the fire team as it now was organized and go back 
to the conventional squad. 

He finished up by telling the men that he wanted the tent rows 
straightened. "I want this camp to look like a Marine camp!" he 

"Gung Ho is dead," someone whispered in the ranks. 

The men went back into their tents. They had heard the payoff. 
All complaint against Carlson vanished. In its place sprung a hate 
for Shaplcy the awesome drunken hate which only enlisted men 
can have for an officer they despise. They hated Shaplcy, and even 
more they hated the authorities who put him in command. 

"Boy scouts!" they muttered. 


"Straighten up the tent rows!" 

"Shapley can go himself for my money!" 

"Gung Ho is dead, good and dead, I mean." 

In one tent an amateur balladist began putting together words. 
Others in his tent added their own. 

Throw away your boots and knives, 
We're giving up our Raider lives. 
They're doing away with the best they got. 
And throwin' him in with the common lot. 

Give up your Raider schemes. 
Give up your Raider dreams . . . 

Someone, in a pause, began to sing softly: 


In the memory of men there were those 
Who were brave . . . 

"Shut up!" came a shout from across the tent. 
"You ain't kiddin'. 'In the memory of men!' The Raiders arc 

"Gung Ho is dead!' 1 
"The Old Man is dead!" 
"For Chrissake, shut up!" 
There was a long silence. 
The balladist started again: 

Throw away your boots and knives, 
We're giving up our Raider lives . . . 

It must be here stated in all fairness that there is no conventional 
evidence that Carlson and Gung Ho were victims of the short- 
sightedness and timidity of Headquarters. The organization of the 
Raider Regiment transformed within a year to regular G.I. status 
the withholding of supplies, the difficulty of finding a paymaster, 
the appointment of Shaplcy instead of an officer from the Raiders 
who might have continued Gung Ho may all have been the result 
of red tape and accident. They may be circumstances which can be 
explained one way or another. 

But there is one circumstance which cannot be explained away. 
From the day in 1943 when Carlson left his Raider Battalion until 
his retirement from the Marine Corps in 1946, he was never again 
given direct command of men. He would be at Tarawa, Kwajelein 
and Saipan; he would be a staff officer, a planner of campaigns, an 
inspector of divisions, but never a commander who could speak to 
Marines directly, teach them the principles of Gung Ho, or lead 
them into battle. 

His career as a military leader of men was over. Other officers 
would be promoted rapidly, but not Carlson. 

In the minds of the Marine High Command his record as a suc- 
cessful commander who had won much at a miraculously low cost 
in life was forgotten. 

Perhaps the High Command was justified. Perhaps the morale 


of the Corps as a whole was diminished by one battalion and one 
leader who made a profession, not only of fighting well, but also of 
preaching and trying to live the spirit of a democratic army. 

Carlson became a very sick man. His malaria was complicated 
by jaundice and complete nervous exhaustion. The loss of his bat- 
talion and the defeat of Gung Ho depleted him more than did 
Makin and Guadalcanal. 

The doctors advised that he be sent to New Zealand for a more 
complete examination than they could give him on Espiritu Santo. 

A group of Raiders came down to see him off. 

"How're things going?" he asked. 

They made sour faces. 

"There ain't no one preachin' Gung Ho to us any more, Colonel," 
one of them said. 

"But you can practice it, can't you?" he said. "Among yourselves. 
If what we did together has any value, you oughn't to have to be 
constantly reminded." 

"Sure, we practice it." 

"But it ain't as easy as it was, Colonel. We see a lot of things done 
that ain't right, but we can't get up at a Gung Ho meeting and 
yell about it." 

"What of it?" he said angrily. "Make sure you practice Gung Ho 
among yourselves. Do your jobs well. Work together. Stand by 
each other. Colonel Shapley'll come around. He's a good man. He 
may not see it at first, but he'll see it later, if you never let him for- 
get that Gung Ho makes men better citizens and better fighters." 

The men said that they'd try. 

"We got some clean clothes for you, Colonel," Larry Peeples said. 
Laundry was always a problem in the Pacific. 

"Wonderful! 1 was afraid I'd have to go to New Zealand naked." 

"But it's not your laundry." 

"What did you do steal, Larry?" 

The men laughed. "We just got some of the boys your size to 
contribute," Peeples said. 

Carlson laughed. "Thank them for me." 


On the ship he opened his laundry bag. There were socks and 
shorts and skivvies and shirts and pants, and on them were the 
name labels of their original owners. It was almost the roll call of 
the Headquarters Company. 

At Auckland he was examined and ordered into a hospital for 
a two months' rest. The doctors gave him his choice of hospitals, 
Auckland's or San Diego's. 

No less than his own men, he hungered for a sight of the States. 
He chose San Diego. 

When he reached the San Diego Naval Hospital, he requested that 
no one be permitted to see him for the first two weeks. He wanted 
time to be alone, to think things through, to figure out, as if he 
had been coming from a battlefield, where he had made his mis- 

While still on sick leave he went to Washington. He had decided 
to take his fight to Headquarters. He saw General Holcomb, the 
Commandant. The General turned him over to the Plans and 
Policies section, commonly known as Pots and Pans, and there he 
talked on the advantages of Raider training, organizations, tactics 
and orientation. 

They listened, asked him questions. 

But nothing was said about sending him back to the Pacific. In 
short, he had lost the final round for the Raider idea. 

Holcomb saw him again and suggested that perhaps General 
William J. Donovan of the Office of Strategic Services might have a 
task for Carlson. He conferred with Donovan, with Dr. Stanley 
Hornbeck and John Davies of the State Department, then General 
Stilwell's adviser in China, and a job was offered to him, the details 
of which are still, and may well be for a very long time to come, 
top secret. 

Carlson, however, saw that the mission had certain political 
aspects which were repugnant to him, and he begged to be relieved. 
"I'd rather go back to the Pacific," he told a friend, "and get a good 
clean bullet right in the heart." 

While he was in Washington, he stopped in to see Brigadier 
General Robert L. Denig with whom he had served in Nicaragua. 


Denig was now chief of Marine Corps Public Relations. In his office 
at the time was Lucien Hubbard, a journalist and screen writer. 
Hubbard had brought a script of a moving picture with him for 
Denig's approval. The script was the story of the Makin Raid, to 
be called "Gung Ho." Walter Wanger, one of Hollywood's most 
progressive and thoughtful producers, was to make it. 

Denig thought it would be a good idea for Carlson to act as 
technical adviser to the film. Carlson agreed, providing it would not 
interfere with whatever duty he would be assigned to after his sick 
leave had terminated. 

General Holcomb approved the arrangement. 

Carlson liked the script of "Gung Ho" although he felt that it 
showed him of! to be too heroic, and he asked for several changes. 
He rewrote the speeches which Randolph Scott, who played the 
part of Carlson, was to make to the Raiders. Carlson realized that 
through the medium of the screen the Gung Ho message would 
reach many millions of Americans. Perhaps such popular opinion 
might help, not to restore the Marine Raiders he saw that that 
was pretty hopeless but it might encourage other officers in all 
the armed services to pursue democratic leadership with greater 
vigor. He knew from letters he had received that there were many 
of them around who had the intention and needed only the incentive. 

In June the Institute of Pacific Relations held a luncheon in 
New York in Carlson's honor for an audience consisting of many of 
America's foremost bankers and industrialists. And with that 
luncheon goes a tale of tragic irony. 

Three years before, in the winter of 1939-40, after his resignation 
from the Marine Corps, Carlson went to New York to seek out 
some of our leading financiers and businessmen, particularly those 
who were responsible for loans and the shipment of raw materials 
to Japan; men from the National City and Chase National Banks, 
executives from Standard Oil and Texas Company. 

"My purpose, gentlemen," he told them individually, "is to warn 
you that you are helping a nation which one day will turn against 
us and bring great losses in lives and wealth to our country." 


One of the industrialists looked at him inquiringly. "You predict 
a Japanese- American war?" he asked. 

"Yes," he said. 


Carlson smiled without humor. "It's impossible for me to guess at 
the exact date. But I'm convinced that it will come within the next 

It was now the turn of the other gentleman to smile without 

"My dear Carlson," he said. "We're not interested in a war in 
the next decade. We're not interested in a war next year or next 
month. We're interested only in returns on our investments today." 

Carlson never forgot that conversation. Whenever he thought in 
the larger terms of what social order must come to in our country, 
he realized that it must exclude the power of men to risk the 
national fate for purposes of "returns on investment." Such "re- 
turns" were justifiable in both a moral and economic sense only 
when no large segment of people could be hurt by their existence. 

He had that conversation in mind when he arose to speak at the 
luncheon in his honor. He saw around him the rich furnishings of 
the Downtown Association, the private club of Wall Street aristoc- 
racy, and he saw in front of him the fine clear skins of wealthy men, 
the parted silvering hair, the firm eyes and aggressive lips of leaders 
who had long practiced the art of quick decisions. There was some- 
thing almost military in their faces, for just as the conventional 
military man is supposed to disregard the calculation that many 
men may die or be crippled by his order to enter battle, and there- 
fore thinks of them merely as nonhuman elements which may be 
risked or not risked as strategy demands, so bankers and industrial- 
ists force themselves to ignore the personal and individual suffering 
which so frequently results from their strategies and manipulations. 

It would make no point to list the members of his audience at 
that luncheon, except merely to say that there were executives 
from the main office of the wealthiest private and public banks in 
the v>orld, and from the oil, communications, airplane and steel 


Edward C. Carter, head of the Institute of Pacific Relations, a 
fervent and honest student of international affairs, had introduced 

Carlson looked around him, and he felt an enormous anger. He 
thought of whom he had left behind at Makin and Guadalcanal. 
He thought of the rotting bodies, the drowned men of Makin, the 
dengue fever, the jungle sores, the vomitous meat. 

He moved his hand across the table in front of him and pushed 
away a dessert dish as if it were poison. 

When he looked up again his face was angry. 

"I don't know precisely why I am here," he said, "because I 
stopped talking December seventh largely out of a feeling of frus- 
tration occasioned by the fact that I had talked to many of you 
gentlemen in 1939 and 1940. Then I told you of what I was con- 
vinced that the Japanese intended to war on us. And I pleaded 
with you to stop the stupid practice of arming Japan. You did noth- 
ing about it." 

He stared back at those staring at him. 

"But my friend, Ned Carter, asked me to speak. And I'm glad 
to accommodate him." 

Someone coughed; someone accidentally hit his spoon against a 
demitasse cup; someone sighed. 

"Let me tell you about the return on investments at Makin and 

And he told them. 

During July, before he received new orders, Carlson worked as 
technical adviser to the Wanger company of "Gung Ho." Ran- 
dolph Scott played the part of Carlson, J. Carroll Naish played Le 
Francois, Sam Levene played "Transport" Maghakian. Ray Enright 
directed Lucien Hubbard's screenplay. 

To this day the stagehands, extras and bit players used in that 
picture remember Carlson, not so much for Makin and Guadal- 
canal, but for what he did when they all went out on location at 
San Clemente, California. The company manager had reserved 
hotel rooms for the principal actors, the director and Carlson. The 


others were given bunks in one of the temporary buildings which 
had been put up for some guayule workers. When Carlson found 
out about this, he told the company manager that there oughtn't 
to be any discrimination. Everybody ought to bunk together. 

"If the picture is going to be about Gung Ho," he said, "the 
people who make it ought to try living it." 

When the word passed around, the hotel rooms were given up, 
and stars and stagehands and extras shared the bunkhouse. 

On the back lots of Hollywood they still talk of it. 

Finally the time came for Carlson to return to duty. He was as- 
signed to a staff job with the Fourth Division at Camp Pendlcton, 
Occanside, California, as divisional planning and operations officer. 
Major General Harry Schmidt, the Division Commander, and 
Colonel Walter Rogers, the Chief of Staff, greatly respected Carl- 
son and appreciated the value of his ideas and efforts. But a 
staff job was not to his liking. He would have preferred to be 
with his Raiders who, at this moment, were fighting in New 

He was restless and still depressed. Only when he received let- 
ters from some of his old men, or read some article which plugged 
Gung Ho, did he feel that he had not failed completely. 


Men under stress 

In October word reached the Fourth Division staff that the Second 
Division then overseas was soon going to be used in an assault on 
an atoll in the Gilberts in the Central Pacific. Our war strategy called 
for the establishment of a base there from which to move into the 
Marshalls and Marianas beyond, and thus to clear the sea flank for 
our return to the Philippines. 


Carlson volunteered to join the Second Division as an observer. 
Its success or failure in the attack on the atoll would determine, to 
some extent, the future training and tactics of his own division. 

His request was approved, and on the first of November he and 
the other observers left Camp Pendleton. One of the other men was 
Brigadier General James L. Underbill, Assistant Division Com- 
mander of the Fourth, and an old China mate of Carlson's. 

Twenty days later a cyclorama of transports, battleships, carriers 
and destroyers slowly appeared against the Pacific horizon. On the 
deck of one of the transports Carlson swept the distance through 
field glasses. In the haze was the dim green of an atoll. Over his 
head in an almost visible arch streamed trains of Naval shells. Be- 
low on the water were the beetle-like landing barges. And in the 
barges were the men of the Second Marine Division, Major General 
Julian C. Smith commanding, sweating and holding their weapons 
in a tight clutch of fear. 

He heard the number of his boat over the loudspeaker, put away 
his glasses, took out of his pocket a letter and hurriedly dropped it 
into a mail sack near by. 


When the call came this time, there was no time for lengthy 
farewells. I climbed in a plane and flew half the world. We're 
headed for another Great Adventure. Unless my logic is far 
amiss, this will be tougher from the standpoint of pure com- 
bat than anything that has gone before. 

Last Sunday was met with reverence by all on board. I saw 
three services being held and each was packed with earnest- 
faced men . . . 

I have said to you before all the things in my mind. I love 
you. God bless you. 

He climbed down the net into the boat of Regimental Commander 
Colonel David Shoup whose men were to lead the assault. In the 
boat were Gilbert Bundy, the artist, and Lieutenant Colonel P. M. 
Rixey, the son of Carlson's old commander at Peiping. 

The battle for Tarawa was to begin, a terrible and tormented 
seventy-six hours, with few parallels in the history of war. 


In the slaughter of Tarawa Carlson saw with sick heart the tragic 
confirmation of the correctness of Gung Ho theories of training; 
and he saw also in the victory an affirmation of his faith in the in- 
genuity and fortitude of the enlisted men, if they were given the 

One thing more came to him. 

Carlson had achieved a reputation for fearlessness. Whoever had 
shared danger with him Edgar Snow and Colin McDonald in 
China, Roosevelt and the Raiders in the Pacific testified to his 
utter lack of fear as they would to a miracle. 

Yet fear is the ever-present, volcanic companion of men in battle. 
Carlson was no exception. At first he managed it the way many 
others have done. In Nicaragua and China he concentrated on the 
task at hand, and there was no room for fear in his mind. This 
"technique," by no means a conscious or deliberately contrived thing, 
was transformed at Makin and Guadalcanal into something more 
substantial. There he was able to function without fear because of 
his deep knowledge of the issues of the war and his conviction that 
the cause he served was just. This was his greatest strength and the 
strength he gave to his Gung Ho battalion. 

And now at Tarawa his management of fear took on again a 
different shape. It came to him in the middle of the battle in the 

4 In Men Under Stress, a study of neuroses in World War II by two 
psychiatrists, Drs. Roy R. Grinker and John P. Spiegel, the point is made 
that while fear derives from the thought of losing something loved 
intensely, nevertheless "if a man is passionately devoted to an abstract 
idea which is in danger, such as his country or his political creed, he 
will give his life to protect it with little apprehension." Thus we see that 
some of the things which create fear may also create fearlessness. Men 
Under Stress is published by Blakiston, 1945. 

In Fear In Battle, a Yale Institute of Human Relations study written 
by Professor John Dollard and Dr. Donald Horton, Carlson's unconscious 
management of fear is confirmed statistically. Of 300 veterans of the 
Abraham Lincoln Battalion who fought against the Fascists in Spain, 
84 per cent said they were less afraid during the battle when they con- 
centrated on their tasks, and 77 per cent said that a "belief in war aims" 
was the most important element in overcoming fear. This report was 
published by Yale University in 1943. Orientation officers in this war 
would probably endorse these percentages. 


guise of a faith that men who act unselfishly are somehow protected. 

Of course he knew that he himself was not a saint and that 
good men were killed by the same shell that killed bad men. 

"It is not given to us," he had said at the Guadalcanal memorial, 
"to know the process by which certain of us are chosen for sacrifice. 
. . . We can only rest our faith in the infinite wisdom of the Su- 
preme Being . . ." 

At Tarawa and later at Kwajalein and Saipan, Carlson held stub- 
bornly to that "infinite wisdom" and to the idea of God as ultimate 

As other men went into the battle wearing their silver crucifixes 
and Stars of David, he went in believing that selflessness, too, can 
be an amulet; a way not only of avoiding the consciousness of im- 
minent death, but also a device to protect a man from it. 

And now came the moment of Tarawa when he needed pro- 

Toward a heavily armed fortress, a little smaller than New York's 
Central Park, Marines walked in from the open sea; walked across 
a six-hundred-yard open coral reef whose shallow green waters, bub- 
bling with enemy bullets, was slowly turning red with their blood. 
On the shore a little strip of white beach had already become the cem- 
etery of five hundred men and the terror of a thousand more who 
lay huddled and leaderless and demoralized. For four hours in the 
equator's sun they lay there, with no place to hide, no place to re- 
treat to, no purchase of ground from which to advance, their only 
ammunition what they could take from the belts of their own dead. 
The besiegers had become the besieged. 

For four hours other men lay out to sea in their landing boats, 
beyond the range of Japanese fire, hysterically begging their officers 
to give the order to go to the aid of their comrades. 

The order did not come for a long time. It could not come. Not 
enough boats could live through the shellfire and reach the reef to 
disembark the men; and not enough men could live to cross the six- 
hundred yards of mortar and machine-gun fire to get to shore. 

Past the men in the boats dead bodies floated face downward, 
trailing blood. 


The loudspeakers of the fleet, four hours after H-hour, announced : 

"The issue is in doubt." 

There was a pier which jutted out from the beach about five 
hundred yards through the coral reef. Under that pier of cocoanut 
log and coral, part trestle, part solid, was the only protection for 
the men walking in. Even so, it was open to enemy cross fire from 
the beach, from a half-sunken hulk of a Jap ship near by, and from 
the shore end of the pier itself. 

At 9:45 in the morning, thirty minutes after H-hour, Colonel 
Shoup's boat with Carlson and other men and officers in it stood 
off at the end of the pier. 

Shoup could not determine which were Marines and which were 
Japs, so intermingled were both sides on the beaches. It would 
be stupid to land and be captured, and he decided to set up a com- 
mand post under the pier, and make contact with his land forces 
from there. 

Strung out under the pier were men afraid to leave its sanctuary 
for the open. Many of their officers and squad leaders lay dead in 
the water near by. And although they were needed on the beach, 
terror transfixed them. They did not move. 

At about this time men of a fresh battalion were being disgorged 
from their landing craft at the edge of the reef and were beginning 
the long Golgotha into the beach. In excellent deployed formation 
they advanced slowly. But Japanese mortars and machine guns 
quickly got their range, and men fell into the water like grain rows 
under a scythe. 

Carlson and Shoup yelled to them to come over to the pier. Some 
men heard, some were confused, and some, stricken with terror 
like the men already under the pier, stood rooted in the water. 

Shoup was busy giving orders into his walkie-talkie. He had 
thrown in his regimental reserves, and was now calling for more 
plane support and Naval gunfire. Other officers were carrying on 
their own duties. Carlson, being an observer with no special task, 
left the protection of the pier, and moving up and down in the 
shallow bullet-splattered water, directed the new battalion to places 
under the pier and through to the other side where he had dis- 


covered that the Japanese fire was not so intense. Then he ran up 
and down the reef, from its seaward edge to the beach, leading 
men in, pulling the half-drowned wounded out of the water, and 
carrying orders from the command post. All around him men were 
hit, some blown to pieces within reach of his arm. His trousers had 
a hole in them from a sniper's bullet which passed between his legs 
and burnt the flesh of his left thigh. Elsewhere, on the beach and 
in the water, other officers and men were doing what he was do- 
ing, for at that moment in the assault he who had the baton of 
Napoleon in his pack had the bitter opportunity of using it. 

Earlier that morning, on his first trip down the length of the 
pier, Carlson had thrown his gear and sleeping bag on the top of a 
wrecked Japanese barge. The next time he passed it he thought that 
he ought to go over, pick his gear up and carry it to the beach 
where, by this time, Shoup had set up another command post. He 
would need his sleeping bag that night. 

He stopped near the barge to catch his breath. "Shall I get my 
stuff this time?" he asked himself. 

No, the next trip. 

Then he suddenly remembered odd flicker of thought in the 
midst of being shot at the offer which Donovan of the O.S.S. 
had made to him. He had turned it down because it involved a kind 
of politics he had no stomach for. He had said he would rather 
meet a clean death in the Pacific. But there was something else about 
the offer. The plane which had carried the man who had taken it 
had gotten into trouble over Burma. The passengers had to bail 
out. The man had been hurt. 

"This time, Evans?" he asked himself again when he passed 
close to the wrecked barge. 

No. Not this time. Nor the next. He decided that to go over for 
his gear would be an act of selfishness. If he had escaped death so 
far on Tarawa, it was because he was doing something for others. 
He could not expect to be protected if he dared bullets to do some- 
thing for himself, for his own comfort. 

He turned away from the barge. If he lived through the day, he'd 
sleep in an open foxhole that night without a sleeping bag. 


Later he returned to the beach where in the midst of intermingled 
Marines and Japanese, living and dead, Colonel Shoup had set up a 
command post at the side of a concrete pillbox still held by the 
enemy. Shoup needed someone to go out to General Smith's head- 
quarters' ship with the facts of the situation as it then stood. Carl- 
son volunteered. 

Someone who saw him go by through the enemy mortar and ma- 
chine guns, and who knew how often he had chanced it, said, "I'd 
go, too, if I could walk right behind Carlson." 

This was the moment of Tarawa; after seventy-six hours of des- 
perate fighting, three days and four hours without cease, every one 
of four thousand strongly entrenched enemy was dead. 

When the word was passed that the island was secured, one could 
almost hear a deep sigh of relief rise above the dead like signal 
smoke. It seemed to Carlson as if the trees, broken by shcllfire, were 

Tarawa was not won by competent strategy or the skillful manip- 
ulation of troops or by the steadfast belligerency of some of the com- 
manders on the beach, although all these were true. 

Ten days after Tarawa was captured Carlson and the other ob- 
servers of the Fourth Division, having been flown back to the States, 
addressed a meeting at Camp Pcndlcton of one thousand officers, 
anxious to hear the details of the Marine Corps' bloodiest battle. 

"Tarawa was won," Carlson told them, "because a few enlisted 
men of great courage called out simply to their comrades, 'Come 
on, fellows. Follow me!' And then went on, followed by men who 
took heart at their example, to knock out, at great sacrifice, one 
Jap position after another, one after another, slowly, until there 
were no more. Tarawa is a victory because some enlisted men, un- 
affected by the loss of their officers, many of whom were casualties 
in the first hour, became great and heroic commanders in their own 

"But-" He paused for a long time. "But with all that courage 
and fortitude and willingness to die on the part of some of the men, 
too many others lacked initiative and resourcefulness. They were 


not trained to understand the need for sacrifice. Too many men 
waited for orders and while they waited they died. What if they 
had been trained not to wait for orders?" 

He was deeply angry. Lives could have been saved. It was this 
very matter he had mentioned to Robert Sherrod of Time, who 
was on the same transport en route to Tarawa. 

"Marines," he had told Sherrod, "have a great deal of esprit de 
corps, and that's all to the good. But that last ounce of sacrifice takes 
more than esprit de corps. Our great weakness is the calibre of our 
officers, and that, of course, is a reflection on our system of educa- 
tion and training." 6 

Tarawa cost the American people 3056 killed, wounded and miss- 
ing, about one out of three men engaged. No other battle in the 
Pacific was to cost that many men in so short a time. 

"What if they had been trained not to wait for orders?" Carlson 
had asked. And how extraordinary was the resourcefulness of the 
few! They had, for example, used bulldozers to pile up sand to cover 
the open ports and vents of enemy pillboxes making them ineffec- 
tive. But if all had been trained to act by themselves . . . 

"Our leaders did not give them that chance," Carlson told the 
thousand Marine officers at Camp Pendleton. 

His citation for Tarawa mentions merely that: 

He volunteered twice when the situation was extremely criti- 
cal to make the hazardous trip, even though the route was 
under enemy fire, to Division Headquarters with vital in- 
formation of the progress of the operations ashore. He was 
instrumental in securing and directing the landing of badly 
needed reinforcements and supplies where they were needed 
the most, and at points where landings were possible. 

Colonel Carlson did much to aid the assault units in the 
final capture of the atoll, and his actions were in keeping with 
the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. 

6 Robert Sherrod is the author of Tarawa, a classic of battle exposition, 
published by Duell, Sloan and Pearce. Sherrod reports this and other 
conversations with Carlson in his book. 


The citation was signed by Major General Julian C. Smith, com- 
mander of the Second Division, which is credited with the victory. 


"My mission is still not completed" 

In a long letter about Tarawa to his father and Karen, he said: 

I traveled about 13,000 miles by air and a couple of thousand 
by ship on this last trip. When one thinks of it in retrospect 
it seems rather silly to travel that far solely for the privilege 
of being shot at by the Japs. But there was a sounder purpose, 
of course. This was to be the first attack on an atoll, so I re- 
quested permission to go in with the 2nd Division. 

It was truly a tough job. ... I did not condition myself 
for this battle. Thought that I would go ashore with the 
regimental commander as an observer, take a few notes and 
that would be that. But I never worked so hard in my life as 
in those first three days. It was a case of every man who was 
still on his feet having to pitch in ... 

I have been in many battles now, and I've had a lot of lead 
and steel thrown in my direction. But I don't believe that 
more lead was ever flowing around me at one time than 
during the first two days at Tarawa. How I got through is a 
miracle. The same holds true of the others who emerged in 
one piece in the initial landing. 

The fact is none of it worried me too much for I was con- 
fident, as always, that when my time comes there is nothing 
I can do about it. No point in dodging, for there is as much 
chance of dodging into one as away from it. My mission is 
still not completed. [Italics author's.] 

After Tarawa, Marine Corps and Army units suddenly flooded 
Carlson with requests for lectures on tactics and training. He was 


allowed to understand that he could talk freely and without re- 
straint, and wherever he went he repeated what he had told the 
officers at Camp Pendleton. He received hundreds of letters asking 
for more information about Gung Ho training, and petitions from 
Army, Marine Corps and even Navy personnel which said in 
essence: "We understand that you are going to organize a new 
outfit. How can we join it?" 

But there was no new outfit being organized. 

I am still without a great deal of authority [he wrote home 
at the end of December, 1943]. All hands come around for 
advice and frequently it is accepted but I'd much prefer to 
run the show myself. My present role requires a considerable 
amount of self-discipline. 

In the same letter he mentions a flight to Pearl Harbor to attend 
an important strategy conference. 

I saw George Marshall for the first time since the GHQ 
days at Chaumont. He and Nimitz are without doubt the 
brainiest and most apt men of the Army and Navy, respectively. 
Keen, modest, kindly. 

He refers also to the fact that he had been receiving a great deal 
of public attention. Liberty, Life and Fortune had run stories on him 
and the Raiders. Of all the articles written on him, the one of which 
he was proudest was published in Fortune: 

Psychiatrically [wrote Fortune] the American Dunkerque 
was Guadalcanal. Lieutenant Commander E. Rogers Smith, a 
psychiatrist at the Mare Island U. S. Naval Hospital, said 
last Spring, "Never before in history has such a group of 
healthy, toughened, well-trained men been subjected to such 
conditions. . . . The strain and stress experienced by these 
men (at Guadalcanal) produced a group neurosis which has 
not been seen before and may never be seen again." 

Some of the Guadalcanal Raiders {Fortune went on to re- 
late] were sent into battle psychologically well prepared. They 
were the famed and heroic "Carlson's Raiders" . ... In this 
group of a thousand men . . . only one case of traumatic war 


neurosis occurred, despite the fact that the Raiders fought un- 
der the same conditions as the other Marines [author's italics]. 

Carlson believes that because he prepared the men for what 
they might expect; because he considered their opinions and 
feelings; because they were convinced he would never sacri- 
fice a man needlessly; because he provided an outlet for terror 
and tension; because his men understood what they were 
fighting for; because the Raiders trusted him implicitly 
they suffered virtually no psychiatric casualties. 

Despite the success of Carlson's methods, no steps have 
since been taken to use them elsewhere in the Marine Corps, 
or in any other unit of the armed forces for that matter. . . . 
Carlson himself has been kicked upstairs. . . . Thus there 
would seem to be no field command for an officer with Evans 
Carlson's proven qualities of leadership and with his respect 
for the dignity of man." 

When a Philadelphia churchman was quoted as saying that Carl- 
son had done more for religion in this war than any other single 
individual, Carlson wrote about it to his father: 

It made me feel good to hear it. I have always hoped that 
I was doing something to restore faith in Christ's precepts. 

I feel humble about all this publicity. But I recognize two 
things about it: it is evidence that people are interested in the 
fundamental values which I continually stress, and two, that 
people like to personalize their war fervor. 

I do not take this as a personal tribute it could not be 
that people do not know me well enough in the first place 
to evaluate me with any degree of honesty, and in the second 
place, I \vould be violating their intelligence if I thought they 
were seriously trying to endow me with virtues which human 
beings do not have. 

No, I am merely the vehicle for disseminating ideas that 
have sound basic value and which people instinctively respect 
but, to a large degree, have lost faith in. They want to believe 
in them but the circumstances of their environment have 
constrained them to accept the doctrine of rugged individual- 

* Fortune: "Psychiatric Toll of Warfare" (December 1943). 


ism in order to preserve themselves. Probably my own con- 
tempt for convention and orthodoxy, when they stand in the 
way of honesty and truth, gives them courage to try anew the 
doctrine of faith and tolerance and co-operative effort. 

At this time his personal life became enriched by the translation 
of a friendship into a love. 

A few months before, he met Mrs. Peggy Tatum Whyte, a cousin 
of one of his Raiders, Larry Peeples. Mrs. Whyte had been divorced 
in 1937. When Carlson met her she was living with her mother and 
her six-year-old son, Tony. From the beginning they liked each 
other. Tony especially liked Carlson. It was no small thing to have 
as a friend a Marine officer with all those medals. 

Mrs. Peggy Whyte was the daughter of an Army Cavalry Colonel 
of the old school who died when she was twenty-six. Her impres- 
sionable years were spent on Army posts all over the country. While 
she recalls with a glow certain happy memories of Army life 
the parades, the flag formations, the fine bugle music of Retreat 
she recalls with distaste the lickspittle system of rank which de- 
termined how the children were to be seated in the school bus, and 
the size and priority of parties. 

The wildness of Army children is notorious. For some reason 
Army parents have a hard time getting their children to obey. Per- 
haps this comes because Army children live in a closed system of 
commands which they rebel against from the very beginning. 

Peggy was as tomboyish as all the other girls at the Presidio in 
Monterey or at Fort Bliss or Fort Leavenworth. But underlying her 
indiscipline was a native sense of justice which, after a while, 
turned her into an unconscious radical. 

She married when she was twenty-three, after a variegated educa- 
tion which intensified but did not clarify her resentment of the 
status quo. Her marriage quickly fell apart, and she was left alone 
to support herself and her son. 

When she met Carlson Peggy Whyte was a rebel without a cause. 
Intelligent and sharp-witted and highly articulate, nevertheless she 
needed a focus to her life, some magnet of idea which could catch 
to itself her intellectual energy, now diffused and turned inward. 


At this time also Mrs. Whyte was depressed at the way life had 
gone for her. She needed not only to experience affection and loy- 
alty again, but faith in human beings as well. 

Carlson had enough faith in human beings to carry two. He had 
an integrity to which she could give herself unequivocally. And 
he, too, needed at this time someone to break into his loneliness. Al- 
though Carlson was a secretive person, almost rigid in maintaining 
the privacy of his personal life, he felt lost without a woman in 
whom he could confide all his private doubts, his failures and his 
mistakes. Women had always been his best friends and confi- 

In Mrs. Whyte he found a woman whom he could trust; but 
more than that, he found someone whom he could teach, for 
he was at heart always the teacher. Her disillusion inspired him to 
"save" her, so to speak; and her swift grasp of new ideas, which she 
tested with a deeply honest skepticism, stimulated him. 

Their need for each other was strong; the undecipherable ele- 
ments of mutual attraction even stronger. They fell in love. Carl- 
son was sure that he had found, at last, the woman he had been 
hoping one day to find. In this he was like most romanticists. But 
with Peggy Whyte he was luckier than most. She matched his ro- 
manticism and she was equal to his maturity. Both, however, had 
the great quality of youthfulness the pure willingness to adven- 
ture anywhere, any time, in place or idea. 

With more certainty and less illusion than he had ever had before, 
Carlson proposed marriage and was accepted. 

But before they could get married, the Fourth Division packed 
its baggage and left Camp Pendleton for its first combat the at- 
tack on Kwajalein atoll in the Marshalls. 

On January 20, 1944, Carlson wrote still another precombat letter 
to his father and sister: 

As I go out this time, as always I have the feeling that I have 
ill-expressed my love for you. I repeat it again and again. 

Kwajalein was perhaps the most successful of the Pacific atoll as- 
saults and Carlson deservedly received some of the credit, for it was 


he who had most of the responsibility for the planning of the 
Marine Corps part of it. 

His plan was to move in to the outlying islands around Kwajalein, 
so that land-based artillery could be used for the attack on the main 
island. It also called for the use of two-thousand-pound bombs to be 
dropped by planes on Kwajalein's strong points. Bombs this size 
had been promised for Tarawa, but for some reason had not been 

When the atoll was secured, he wrote home again: 

Things clicked. We really put the lessons of Tarawa to work. 
I rate this operation a success because we were able to keep 
casualties low. 

Carlson requested a stateside leave after Kwajalein. His division 
would be in a rest area for a while, and he wanted to get married 
before another D-Day came around. His request was granted. 

They were married in the La Jolla Union Congregational Church 
on February 29. "With malice aforethought," Carlson said later. 
"We like the idea of having a wedding anniversary only every four 
years." Mrs. Whyte's seven-year-old son, Tony, was best man. 

Before his leave was over Carlson flew to New York to address a 
Sun Yat-sen memorial meeting at which Paul Robeson, the great 
Negro, and Admiral Harry Yarnell spoke. He saw his old friends, 
Ed and Peg Snow, and his father, brother and sister. He told them 
all about his new wife who, unfortunately, had been unable to make 
the trip with him. 

Carlson was happy to see how well his father looked. He was 
seventy-seven now, and almost two years had passed since he had 
resigned his ministry of the Plymouth Congregational Church after 
fifty years as a preacher and sixteen years in the little Connecticut 

A day after Carlson returned to California and his bride he left 
for the Pacific base where the Fourth Division was being prepared 
for its next combat. This time it was to be something bigger than 
Kwajalein. Two islands; not atolls. Saipan and Tinian. Carlson, as 


planning officer, was given the task of working out the tactics of the 

He was tired. The last two years it was now the end of March 
1944 had depleted him. He had been through Makin, Guadal- 
canal, Tarawa and Kwajalein. He had crossed the Pacific eight 
times, the continent four times. Malaria still fevered and froze him. 
He had had no rest, little chance to recapture the ceaseless outflow of 
energy. And now on him was placed the heavy responsibility of 
helping to plan an invasion. He felt it was absolutely necessary for 
the Division to gain a tactical surprise in order to avoid heavy 
casualties. As he studied the beaches of Saipan and Tinian, espe- 
cially Tinian, he realized that to achieve that surprise it would 
require a very radical departure from the standard operating pro- 
cedure of an amphibious attack. On Tinian, for example, the avail- 
able beaches for landing a large force would obviously be those on 
which the Japanese would expect landings and therefore would 
place their heaviest defenses. But there were other beaches, incon- 
venient and small, certainly not the kind that anyone in his right 
mind would recommend for a landing. They were hard to approach 
and were too small to permit a force larger than two hundred and 
fifty men to land on. These beaches, of course, would be lightly 
defended, if at all. The Japanese command, if Carlson knew it 
right, would discount them. 

Carlson proposed that the Fourth Division land on these small 
and inaccessible beaches; land thousands of men on beaches that 
could only hold hundreds. "We can shoulder our way in through 
the enemy's back door," he said. "It's the only way to surprise 

Major General Harry Schmidt of the Fourth and Colonel Walter 
Rogers, his Chief of Staff, heartily approved Carlson's plan. 

Harry Schmidt, now a Lieutenant General, was always one of 
Carlson's defenders in the ranks of the Marine Corps brass. In a 
letter to the author, General Schmidt wrote: "I found Colonel 
Carlson always diligent in the performance of his duties. He is a 
man of fine character, a soldier of distinction and intensely loyal to 
those over him and to the Marine Corps. He contributed greatly in 


our efforts in the Pacific and as my planning officer he did out- 
standing work." 

Later, General Schmidt told the author: "Carlson made a good- 
sized contribution to the winning of the Pacific war." 

The assault on Saipan began June 14. 

President Roosevelt, just the week before, had prayed with his 
fellow citizens for the success of D-Day in the invasion of Europe. 
"These men . . . fight not for the lust of conquest, but to end 
conquest," he had said. "They fight to let justice arise and for 
tolerance and good will." 

The Russians were into Czechoslovakia in the great offensive from 
the East, and the accord of Teheran had seemed to signal, once and 
for all, the unity of the Big Three. 

And now once again an armada filled the Pacific. There were 
the same fleets as before, only larger; the same aerial and naval 
bombardment, only heavier; the same beetle-like landing boats, 
only more. 

It was as if Carlson were seeing a moving picture he had seen 
many times before, except that now it was filled with double ex- 

Carlson sent one more "last" letter home to Plymouth, and he had 
wondered whether or not it might be his truly "last." 

God be with you, Dad and Karen, and make His light to 
shine upon you . . . 

His thoughts were on Plymouth, and on his brother Tom who 
lived with his family in a little New Jersey town, commuter's dis- 
tance from New York. He always remembered Tom with affection- 
ate irony. Years ago, when Tom was just out of college and Evans 
was a by-the-book Marine, they had had long, bitter arguments on 
politics. Tom was then the liberal, Evans the conservative. Now 
their arguments were still bitter, but their opinions were reversed. 

He thought, of course, of his son, Evans, Jr., who was in the States 
preparing to go overseas again; and he thought of Edgar Snow, 
doing wonderful work as a war correspondent, of his old friends, 


Agnes Smedley and Chu Teh and Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai 
and the five boys he had traveled with. Now they were all fighting 
the enemy together. 

And he thought of Peggy Carlson. Not the last in his mind, but 
the first. He felt deeply the wrench of their separation so soon after 
marriage. He was glad he had remembered to write his father earlier, 
to send Peggy the letter he had marked "Not to be Opened Except 
in the Event of My Death." If anything happened to him, there 
would be little enough for Peggy Carlson to have; the few months 
of their courtship, the few weeks of their marriage. Neither of them 
had questioned the advisability of getting married during the war. 
They had loved each other and they wanted to marry, even though 
the risks were great. 

He was a little afraid of Saipan. He had a premonition. 

In an earlier letter to his father dated May 4th, five weeks before 
Saipan's D-Day, he mentioned, for the first time since the war, the 
possibilities of his death in battle. And he added: 

If I live through the war, God willing, I hope that in the 
turbulent period that will follow I will be able to work for 
the happiness and welfare of all men and women of good 

But the scent of trouble ahead was clearly in his nostrils. He told 
the author before departing Camp Pendleton for the Saipan opera- 
tion that he wished he did not have to go. For every other operation 
he had been eager, and had volunteered for most of them. For Sai- 
pan, he was reluctant. 

How long could he last? he asked himself. Makin, Guadalcanal, 
Tarawa, Kwajalein , . . How long? 

On June 14, as he stood against the bulkhead of his landing boat, 
watching the smoke from high explosive shells bloom from Saipan 
up ahead, he made a vow. If he lived through this that was forth- 
coming, he would give his whole life from that time on to the 
cause of a progressive and people's peace. 

Eight days later, on the 22nd of June, Carlson, Lieutenant Col- 
onel Justice Chambers and Pfc. Vic Cassara, a radioman from 


Brooklyn, New York, were moving up the flank of Mount Tapot- 
chau where a fiery battle was going on. Cassara was carrying a 
walkie-talkie, and every now and then Carlson or Chambers would 
give him a message detailing the battle situation to Division Head- 

"We were moving up a little to the rear of the main body of 
troops," Cassara reported later. "Suddenly there was a burst of 
machine gun fire from behind, and I fell with a bullet in my thigh. 
I couldn't crawl out of the line of fire because of the heavy radio 
apparatus on my back, so the two officers rushed over and helped 
me to cover behind a small dirt bank. 

"Then the machine gun opened up again and bullets zipped into 
the dirt inches above my head. Colonel Carlson realized that the 
cover was not adequate so he picked me up to remove me to a safer 

"The Colonel hadn't carried me more than a few yards when 
there came another burst and he was struck. It seems almost mirac- 
ulous to me that I was not hit again. 

"A corpsman and stretcher bearers arrived seconds later. They 
started to remove Colonel Carlson first until he instructed them to 
take me because I had been wounded first. 

"They don't come any better than the Colonel. He has won the 
respect and admiration of all who have served with him. I know if 
he hadn't carried me away from that spot I would certainly have 
been hit again and probably killed. That gunner really had my 
range." 7 

As the stretcher bearers carried Cassara away, Colonel Chambers 
moved Carlson over to a wooden shed near by and put him down 
gently to wait for the bearers to return. Carlson had been hit in the 
right arm and left thigh, and was bleeding badly. Chambers made 
a makeshift bandage, and gave him a handful of sulfa tablets. 

When the bullets had hit him, Carlson felt as if hammers had 
fallen on him. He recalls that the first thing he thought of was that 

7 An interview published in the Marine Corps Chevron, San Diego, 
California, in July 1944. The interview was given to Sergeant Ellsworth 
A. Shiebler, Marine Corps combat correspondent. 

"GON-HOE" 341 

he was not killed. And then gratitude. And then he thought that 
the wound meant he would be out of combat for some time to come, 
and he might live out the war and into the peace. 

Later, lying in the little shed, with the insane sounds of the near-by 
battle filling his ears, he could not help feeling a deep joy. He 
thought back on the past. Everything seemed to fit together. He had 
been led from his father's house, and through all the seeking, to this 
moment, and from this moment on he would remember his vow. 

When the stretcher bearers returned, his pain was coming in 
fast but he was still conscious. They carried him to an aid station in 
an old stable. The Japs had zeroed in their mortars on the stable 
and the terrain all around was being chewed into pieces by the 
bursting shells. Doctors and medical corpsmen and the wounded 
expected a direct hit at any minute. 

"I remember thinking at that time," Carlson says, "that if the Japs 
couldn't hit me up front, they weren't going to hit me back there." 

The doctors ordered him back to Pearl Harbor, and after a few 
harassing days in the Naval Hospital there, he was shipped to San 

One year before he had entered the same hospital. His Raiders 
had been taken from him. He had been depressed. He had wanted 
to see no one. 

Now, though weak and troubled with his wounds, he was ready 
to see the world. 



He saw the world. Mrs. Peggy Carlson came first, of course, but 
soon he numbered among his visitors the President and Mrs. Roose- 
velt and Colonel James Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt mentioned the visit 


in her column, and referred to him as General Carlson. This created 
a flurry among his admirers in the Marines and outside who had 
been claiming that with his record Carlson should have been given 
a general's stars long ago. But Mrs. Roosevelt, unfortunately, was in 
error. Marine Corps Headquarters quickly informed the United 
Press that "whatever his deserts, (Carlson) still has two jumps to 
make before becoming a general officer." In this connection, it might 
be well to record that Carlson never received his stars. Carlson him- 
self was considerably surprised when he was promoted to full Colo- 
nel in March 1945, to rank as of November 1942. He did not think 
he would ever get that far. 8 

He gave many newspaper interviews. His estimate of Saipan 
was that "Tarawa was a side show compared to it." He figured 
that the Japanese were far from beaten and the war would last at 
least two years more. And, as for the home front, he praised the con- 
tribution to the war of trade unions. To him they were the spine of 

Letters for him flooded the hospital, from strangers, old friends 
he hadn't heard from in years, Army and Navy men, and of course, 
his Raiders. 

"Dear Sir," began one Raider, and ended: "Your pal." 

Another commenced: "Knowing the kind of fellow you are, I 
feel as though I can write to you without going through all the regu- 
lar routine." 

"Your loyal follower," said another Raider. Then added a P.S.: 
"Sir, if you ever need a man for any kind of job and I mean any- 
thing just call on me. I just had to say that!" 

From a Master Sergeant ex-Raider: 

In a few days I am to go overseas again but just couldn't 
go without writing to you. Believe me, Colonel, how often 
we talk of the old outfit. Those days were the happiest I ever 
had in the Marines. I'll remember you in my prayers. God 
bless you. 

8 He was retired for wounds and disability in the summer of 1946 as a 
Brigadier General, an automatic promotion given to men who had re- 
ceived high battle honors such as the Navy Cross. 

"GON-HOE" 343 

A pharmacist's mate who served with the Raiders on Guadalcanal: 

I saw your picture and read about the wound. ... I will 
always cherish the days I had duty under you. 

From a "Sergeant by your own hand": 

This Gung Ho business is above most people's heads but 
even though I don't get it across verbally, they still seem to 
appreciate it in practice. 

The personnel officer of a PT boat squadron in the Pacific wrote 
of how, after reading descriptions of Gung Ho in Fortune and in 
Life, he tried to instill it in his own men. He wasn't getting results. 
"How did you begin, sir?" he asked. "How can I get it to work? 
Where did I make my mistakes?" 

From the chief surgeon of the Army I02nd Infantry Division 
came a request for Gung Ho material. He had read a brief sum- 
mary in the Reader's Digest and thought it might be a way of pre- 
venting neuropsychiatric casualties. 

From the American Red Cross in Brooklyn, New York, came 
word that a man whose name was unknown to Carlson had made 
a blood donation in his honor. 

From Saipan came letters. They were missing him. His plan had 

"Evans, your back door plan really fooled 'em. Thanks for your 
ideas," wrote Colonel Walter Jordan from Tinian in August. 

Second Lieutenant Harry McCabe, assistant to Carlson, told him 
what was going on in Saipan. Carlson had come to have great 
affection for Mac. He was the only one, apart from the Division 
Commander and the Chief of Staff, to whom Carlson could talk 
over top-secret material. He found in Mac what Carlson had always 
needed, responsiveness and loyalty. "Mac was pure Gung Ho/' Carl- 
son says. And beyond that he can praise no higher. The broad- 
faced, earnest Pittsburgher was killed on Iwo Jima. In his pocket 
at that time was a letter from Carlson telling him to be careful. 
"Never go into a danger area, Mac," the letter had said, "unless it's 
your duty. Never hesitate if it is." Mac's friends on Iwo say that 


he was eternally dragging out that letter, using it as a guide to de- 
cision. McCabe found it was his duty to go forward into a quarry, 
the center of a fierce fire-fight. He was wounded in his shoulder, 
refused evacuation; was wounded a few minutes later on the side 
of his head, refused evacuation again. The third bullet went through 
his head. 

No loss in the war meant as much to Carlson. The two men, 
twenty years apart, were friends, and Carlson has few close friends. 

There is a story about Carlson which throws some light on 
McCabe's loyalty to his leader and to the principles of Gung Ho 
even in the smallest detail. 

Sergeant David Dempsey, a Marine Corps combat correspondent, 
who had been with the Fourth Division, wrote the author the fol- 

When our division was returning from the Marianas cam- 
paign, the Merchant Marine vessel on which we sailed served 
the troops but two meals a day. (They were lousy meals, too, I 
can assure you.) However, the officers got the usual three 
feedings per day. This is hard to believe, but men actually 
asked for mess duty in order to get enough to eat; others 
bought food from the crew, or traded souvenirs for it; some 
even stood outside the officers' mess and "begged" for it. There 
was a great deal of bitterness about the whole thing, especially 
in view of the treatment the officers got. The story got around 
and this is the part I cannot verify that Col. Carlson 
voluntarily limited himself to two meals a day in view of the 
situation. Even though it may not be true (although I rather 
suspect it is) it is significant that the troops would spread a 
story like this and believe in it. In other words, they believed 
in Carlson. 

In commenting on Dempsey 's story, Carlson said: "It happened 
but on the trip back from the Marshall Islands on the S.S. Young 
America. I had forgotten about it. As I recall, both McCabe and I 
voluntarily skipped the noon meal. To the best of my recollection 
McCabe thought of it on his own, and only later did we find out 
that each of us had done it." 

"GON-HOE" 345 

More letters came to him at the hospital. Admiral Yarnell, now 
retired, wrote him: 

Much has happened since you were in North China and 
saw what troops could really do if they were trained for it. 
Your experience has borne rich fruit, since I feel that you have 
really been responsible for the commando type of soldier. 

He heard from Yong Hak Park, and Ching Lee, the Mr. "Gung" 
and Mr. "Ho," their Korean guides of the Guadalcanal days, and 
from Schofield, Le Francois, Nelson, Bulgar, Maghakian, Peeples, 
Hermanek, Peatross, Plumley and Coyte. They all wrote, as one of 
them put it, "in the faith." 

And there vyere the sad letters: "Do you remember Wiseman, the 
tall red-headed fellow; Studer, the small, weaseled, bald-headed 
guy? They were killed. Remember Tony Rilja killed. Out of two 
hundred Raiders left, seventy-five were killed, one hundred 

There were letters from some of his old corporals and sergeants, 
now master sergeants and officers commissioned in the field, who 
wanted to know how soon they could figure on joining him in a new 

"We hope we meet again some day Wake, Philippines, China. 
Who knows! Gung Ho will see us through as it has done before." 

One Raider wrote him a history of the Battalion after Carlson 
had left. 

If you remember, sir, some of our weaker men blamed you 
for our short stay in New Zealand, but most of us were 100% 
loyal to you and your teachings. You had no sooner left us 
than any one of us would have done anything to get back 
under your command. 

Most of us thought you would be coming back to us after 
your rest in the States. So we bided our time and waited for 
that day. Colonel Shapley made a bad start by reverting 
to the ten man squad set-up but the fire-team system had 
become a part of the Raiders so we saw to it that all the new 
replacements were properly indoctrinated and the training 
was largely along your lines. At least, we made it so. 


You understand, of course, that these are mostly my impres- 
sions of the general trend among your old men. 

Of course there were some few who aren't capable of under- 
standing such a philosophy as Gung Ho but then those men 
weren't able to stand the tests of Guadalcanal either. It wasn't 
their fault but they didn't belong with us who had the spirit, 
will and determination to suffer any and all sacrifices. 

Shortly before we left for Bougainville, a new Colonel took 
charge Lt. Colonel McCafferty and he gradually let us drift 
back into your training methods and Gung Ho came to life 
again! Unfortunately he was killed on the beach and Major 
Washburn took over (Washburn was an original member of 
the Raiders) and once more things ran like a well-oiled ma- 
chine. You would have been proud of our spirit! We done jobs 
there that it took the 3rd Raiders and 3rd Marine Regiment 
days to do. We done it in a few hours. Some of us died, but 
we knew we'd end the opposition with a minimum loss of life 
& we did. 

In the days that followed we thoroughly proved once more 
that your teachings & methods were sound for we done every 
job we were supposed to do with minimum delay, loss of 
life, and willingness. We sort of felt like we were doing it 
for you. 

When the old men all came home in Feb after 21 months 
overseas they all hoped you'd meet them at the dock. It's very 
hard to be content in any other service after serving under 

That's why I am writing this & for the other fellows. If there 
is ever a chance of us getting together again we'd like to 
know it so that we could once again do what is dearest to our 
hearts. In my small way I feel like the part of a Crusade! 
Perhaps some day we can make enough people listen! 

A Methodist minister from Thomaston, Connecticut, who was a 
Chaplain with the Air Transport Command, wrote: 

Please let me take this occasion to tell you how much of a 
source of inspiration you have been for me during the last 
few years. . . . Your attitude is making a real contribution to 
the ideal of democratic understanding . . . 

"GON-HOE" 347 

From an Army man who had also fought with the Spanish Loy- 
alists against Franco: 

It is heartening to know that we have men like you, and 
surely there must be many others, who are fighting for a better 
and saner world. 

But of all his letters, the ones that meant the most came from 
the parents of his boys. 
From Chicago: 

Our son left us over two years ago a normal intelligent 
youngster, just out of prep school. He returned to us an even 
finer man than our fondest dreams had hoped, for which I 
wish to thank you and a Providence who placed our boy under 
your command. You are his ideal. To be as you are, his ulti- 
mate goal. 

From parents whose son had been killed: 

We hate saying things like this but feel you will understand. 
There never would have been so many of our lads dead had 
you been their leader. I can hear our darling saying he would 
rather eat a bowl of rice with the Old Man than the finest 
chow with anyone else. I can see you srnile for I know you 
have heard that often. Of course the lads didn't think you did. 

From Puyullup, Washington: 

I was listening in on the radio and heard what you had 
to say about Gon-Hoe. My son, of your Raiders, was wounded 
on Guadalcanal. Then gave his all at Tarawa. Can you not 
write and tell me how he met his death was he taught Gon- 
Hoe did you know him to talk to? 

From Omaha, Nebraska, from Hornbeak, Tennessee, from Ana- 
huac, Texas, Tortilla Flat, Arizona, Sterling, Colorado, Baker, Ore- 
gon, Concord, New Hampshire, Perry, Oklahoma, Springfield, 
Massachusetts the letters came. They were typed; they were hand- 
written, some with Palmer method grace, some in the stubby 


awkwardness of the untaught. They told their stories of loneliness 
for their never-returning boys and of a gratitude that was more 
meaningful for having come out of sorrow. They invited him to 
"come by and stay with us"; to "please make our home your home 
when you come to Chicago"; they told him he was being prayed 
for daily; they quoted sermons their preachers had given with ex- 
cerpts from the Guadalcanal memorial. And they congratulated 
him on his marriage and wished speedy recovery from his wounds. 
They sent him fruit and flowers and printed greeting cards with 
notes attached. 

To the fathers and mothers of his dead Carlson wrote letters of 

In one letter, Carlson wrote: 

I know what the loss of your son means to you. I wish I 
could say or do something to alleviate your grief. I know this 
is not possible; that your strength and consolation must come 
from your faith in the righteousness of the cause for which 
your son fought with all his youthful vigor and determination. 
We who survive must work for the objectives for which he 
died; that tolerance and understanding and harmony may 
be established in human relationships. Only through an hon- 
est regard on the part of each individual for the welfare of 
others can we hope to obviate the tragedy of war. Then only 
will your sacrifice have a measure of justification. 

In another letter, he said : 

Those of us who remain must elect men and women to 
public office who will use their positions honestly to advance 
the welfare of all the people. 

Carlson knew that when the war was won the same fight in a 
different guise would continue at home. To him the "lost loved ones" 
as he put it in a letter to a mother, might be forever lost if the 
war-in-peace were not fought and won in the city council as well 
as in the Congress. 


December distaste 

His arm wound was troubling him. After a month in the hos- 
pital the doctors decided it was time for a bone graft. However, 
when the surgeons got into his arm they found infection still pres- 
ent and the wound still draining. It was no time for a graft. They 
removed the wire joining the broken bone, and broke adhesions 
which, owing to the immobility of the arm, had formed in his elbow 
and shoulder. 

To his father he wrote: 

Another two months must elapse before the graft can be 
made. But I feel human for the first time in many months. 
My jaundice is just about out of my system, and despite the 
shock of the wounds and the debility caused by the jaundice 
and malaria, lying in bed for the last three months has really 
rested me. 

The doctors permitted him to rest at home, and he and Mrs. 
Carlson rented a house in the country, about three miles northwest 
of Escondido, California, and only an eighth of a mile off High- 
way 395 which he had helped survey in 1916, and where he had 
once promised himself he would like to live one day. It was good 
living on a hill with groves of fruit trees on all sides, with fine 
pines and sycamores and peppers on his own land, with high dry 
air and temperate sun. His neighbors were generous, industrious 
and friendly people. Carlson had his books and, for the first time 
in many years, a chance to loaf and read and think slowly. 

The days went by, and he was happy. 

In January 1945, he made a trip to Chicago to talk over a national 
radio hookup for Wrigley's "Front Line" program. When he was 
asked what his fee was, he replied that he wanted only railroad fare 


for himself and his wife and their hotel expenses. To the some- 
what shocked advertising man, he explained what he was going to 
talk about, and he didn't want to make any money off Gung Ho. 
Years before, he had decided to avoid "cashing in" on his convic- 
tions. In 1939-1940, when he had lectured around the country for 
the Stimson Committee against participation in Japanese aggression, 
he turned back to the committee all his fees, many of them large, 
and accepted a wage which came to $200 a month, "enough to 
live on." 

In Chicago he was also to address the Union League Club. He 
couldn't figure out why they wanted him. Didn't they know he was 
a very progressive Democrat ? But they gave him carte blanche and 
with it he would talk to the Devil himself. 

When he arrived, he found that a room had been reserved for 
him at the Union League Club. He told the committee which met 
him at the train that he would prefer to go to a hotel. "There are 
lots of people I would like to see while I'm here," he explained in a 
friendly way. "Negroes, Chinese, labor leaders. They might be re- 
luctant to come to see me at the Club." He did not add that the 
Club might be reluctant to have them come to him there. 

He stayed at a hotel. 

Another committee called on him: the parents and relatives of 
men who had served in the Second Raider Battalion. They had or- 
ganized a "Carlson's Raider Family Club." Would he honor them 
by attending a dinner? 

Would he honor them! He would have come to Chicago for them 

The club had been started when Raiders wrote home sending 
messages to their parents for other parents. Members of about forty 
families in Chicago met each other this way. After a while they got 
together to see newsreel films of Guadalcanal in which their sons 
appeared, and the idea of a club came into being. Gung Ho was its 

At the dinner Carlson was presented with a hand-inscribed 
memorial, signed by the parents, relatives and friends of local 
Raiders. When Thomas J. Hermanek, the club's president, handed 


the memorial to him, Carlson was deeply stirred. He could not pre- 
vent his tears. When he spoke, he spoke as one of them, telling them 
what he had tried to do and how much their sons had done. Simply, 
he repeated the plea, for which he had vowed his life, not to permit 
the peace to mock the war. 

In March Carlson was sent overseas again to act as Deputy Chief 
of Staff for the Fifth Amphibious Corps. This passage of time was 
marked for him by the death in April of a man he dearly loved, 
Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

In a letter, he wrote: 

The news of the President's passing has hit me hard. For 
ten years he has been my inspiration and my ideal. I was 
privileged to serve him and was honored by his friendship 
and confidence. To the world he is a great man but only his 
family and friends knew how truly great he was. 

At the moment I feel like a ship without a rudder. I know 
of no one else whose leadership I could follow with the su- 
preme confidence with which I followed FDR. I was so cer- 
tain of his integrity, of his concern for the welfare of all the 
people. How tragic is his passing at this time, only history 
can discern and record. 

Perhaps in death his influence for an equitable and lasting 
peace will be more profound than if he had lived. At any 
rate, his great heart is now at peace. God rest him. 9 

By June 1945, he had to be returned to the States for another 
operation on his arm. The bones were not knitting together as they 
should. At Escondido he found his father and his sister. They had 
driven across country from Connecticut. From now on California 
would be their home. The family was together again, and Carlson 
was overjoyed at how warmly his father and sister accepted Peggy, 
his new wife, whom they were meeting for the first time. 

Peace had come now what was he going to do ? 

Carlson had once made a talk before the faculty of California 
Institute of Technology, and out of it had come the suggestion that 

9 To the author. 


there might be a place for him there to teach the politics of the 
Far East. From Occidental College, acting President Arthur Coons, 
an old friend from Peiping days, talked about a teaching job. From 
the New School for Social Research in New York came still another 
offer. Carlson liked the idea of teaching. He had practiced it suc- 
cessfully in the Raiders. He looked forward to time for study and 
writing, and to the friendship of young men who must some day 
be our leaders. 

There was still another prospect. Some California friends proposed 
that he enter the 1946 primaries for the United States Senate. 10 

Carlson was quite reluctant to enter politics. He did not want to 
"make deals" or play the required game of compromise and deceit 
which, unhappily, is the lifeblood of our politics. If the politicians 
and the voters would accept him as he was, knowing in full that 
he was strongly pro-labor, anti-Big Business, opposed to our sup- 
porting Chiang Kai-shek against the Chinese Communists, in favor 
of our sharing our atomic discoveries with the world; why, then, he 
would run. He did not want to have anybody write or rewrite his 
speeches for him. He wanted to say what he believed. He wanted all 
to know, politicians and people, that he was for full employment 
and for the Fair Practices Employment measure; for a Federal pro- 
gram of education. He wanted the veterans to know that he did not 
consider them a special part of the citizenry. What benefited all, 
benefited them. He was, of course, for the G.I. Bill of Rights which 
he wanted even more liberalized. But, "The welfare of any single 
citizen is inseparable from the welfare of the whole," he wrote to 
the American Veterans' Committee of which he was a member. 
He urged veterans to get into politics, but to keep politics out of 
the Veterans' Administration. He was particularly bitter against the 
lobbies which tried to get Veterans' Hospitals in their communities 
for pork-barrel reasons. 

If he was acceptable to the politicians and the people on these 
principles, he would fight for the nomination. It was not an easy 
decision to make, for he knew it would mean the end of privacy and 

10 Carey McWilliams, in an article in the Nation of December i, 1945, 
describes the genesis of this proposal. 


the end of time to study and write. And although he did not say 
this, his wife knew that he had not overcome a fatigue which was 

While still on sick leave after the operation on his arm in which 
the bones were reset, he made many speeches. These were not 
political campaign speeches, for he was still in uniform. But in 
another sense they were campaign speeches; for he was using what- 
ever forum was available to speak out, as he had done in 1939-1940, 
to the good sense of the American people. There were Makins and 
Tar a was to be won at home. 

December 1945 was the high point of this activity. It almost led 
him to disaster. 

On Monday, December 2, he flew from California to New York 
to speak before the American Veterans' Committee, and to a meeting 
of the Independent Citizens' Committee of the Arts, Sciences and 
Professions at Madison Square Garden. The subject was "Atomic 
Energy and Foreign Policy." Speakers were Henry Wallace, Senator 
Tobey of New Hampshire, the famous scientists, Harlow Shapley, 
Harold Urey and Julian Huxley, Helen Keller, R. J. Thomas, Presi- 
dent of the United Automobile Workers, and others. It was a mag- 
nificent meeting, attended by 22,000 people. As Carlson was in- 
troduced they rose to their feet with roars of "Gung Ho! Gung Ho!" 

His tall, spare, uniformed figure stood out sharply in the spot- 
lights; the battle stars on his ribbons glistened; he stood for a 
moment in front of the microphone and with his good arm waved 
thanks for the applause. It kept coming. He grinned happily. He 
felt the powerful wave of kinship which flowed to him through 
the cheers and the handclaps. He thought that there is nothing in 
all of the emotion of man which is more exciting than brotherhood. 

When the applause died away, he put on his silver-rimmed glasses 
and read his speech. 

"We must direct our thinking," he said in part, "toward building 
a world organization which will have as its objective the harmoniz- 
ing of human relations and the satisfying of human needs among 
all the peoples of the earth." 


On Wednesday he spoke at a meeting to raise money for the 
dissemination of information about democratic China. Thursday, 
he flew from New York to San Francisco to speak before the State 
C.I.O. Convention. (The month before he had received a special 
medal from the National Maritime Union for his war services.) 
While in San Francisco, he talked to the Press Club on China. "The 
best interests of China are served by withdrawing our troops from 
there," he said. "Let the Chinese people decide for themselves who 
shall be their own leaders." 

Friday, he flew to San Diego to spend a few hours at home. On 
Sunday he went to Bakersfield where he addressed the District Con- 
vention of the 20-30 Clubs. Monday night, he was back in Los 
Angeles to join Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas and 
Thomas Mann, the author of The Magic Mountain, in a public dis- 
cussion of atomic energy and peace. Tuesday, he drove down to 
San Pedro to talk to the tenants of the Channel Heights Federal 
Housing Project. To an audience of laboring men and women for 
him an audience in which he found himself most at home he 
spoke of the necessity to place human needs on a par with profits. 

Wednesday, in Los Angeles, he spoke by remote control to a 
New York meeting honoring returning servicemen. At the radio 
station he met for the first time ex-Sergeant Bill Mauldin, the 
cartoonist and gadfly of the brass hats. Mauldin was overheard to 
say that of the brass only Eisenhower and Carlson had the respect 
of the G.I. Carlson spoke privately to Mauldin encouraging him in 
his fight against home-grown Fascism. "It'll be real rugged as the 
time goes on, Bill," he said. "Then you'll need all your wits and 
all your courage against all kinds of pressures." 

"Hell," Mauldin said. "They're calling me a 'Red' already." 

That Wednesday night he spoke on atomic power politics to a 
meeting at the Hollywood American Legion Stadium. Here he dis- 
carded a prepared address and spoke extemporaneously. He let him- 
self go. He delighted and inspired the audience. Of all his talks 
many of them suffering from too many generalizations this was 
his most effective. This one was warm, affectionate, salty, humorous 
a little like Will Rogers, a lot like the Yankee of tradition. Re- 


ferring to the chairman's remark that Carlson was fifty-two, he said: 
"He has placed me among the wise old men of fifty-two, when I'm 
really only an adolescent of forty-nine. Where you and I will be 
on my fifty-second birthday depends on what we do about this 
atomic bomb." 

Thursday, San Francisco again, to appear before the famous Com- 
monwealth Club; and on Sunday a dinner for Bill Mauldin in 
Los Angeles. 

Late Sunday night, tired and with his arm hurting him, he drove 
home to Escondido. 

In the meantime some of the professional politicians in the state, 
realizing Carlson's progressivism, his appeal to the citizen, and his 
unwillingness to talk "deals," had started a "Stop Carlson" move- 
ment. Others, not so professional, were building organized support 
for him. At a conference of California Democratic Party leaders, 
the pro-Carlson forces were strong enough to prevent the caucus 
from coming out in support of the machine candidate. 

Carlson's candidacy looked very promising. A number of prom- 
inent Californians, among them James Roosevelt, now retired from 
the Marine Corps, announced themselves publicly for him. Hun- 
dreds of others, veterans and citizens, flooded Carlson with letters 
and telephone calls, asking what they could do to help. 

Then depressing news slowly came out of Escondido. Carlson 
was sick. Carlson had heart trouble. 

The rumor was true. Carlson was sick. During that strenuous 
month of December, he had been feeling deep pains in his chest. 
For awhile he hid this from his wife. He reasoned that they may 
have been deferred pains from his wound, or were a result of a chest 
cold. But a few days before Christmas he could not hide them from 
his wife any more. He had his first heart attack. The campaign for 
the senatorship was over. If he was to live, the Naval doctors at 
San Diego told him, he must rest for at least six months. 

"I've fallen apart like the one-horse shay," he told his friends. 

His illness came as a great shock to him. For a while he was 
really frightened. And there were some things he felt he wanted to 


get said. He wrote a letter to his old friend Agnes Smedley which 
shared the temper of his "last" letters before H-hours. 

In his brief experience as a possible candidate for the senatorship 
from California he had his first intimate contacts with professional 
politicians and old-line labor leaders. Some of these experiences had 
outraged him and he wanted to go on record, if, perchance, he 
did not live through this last battle with his heart. 

My meager experience with politics and politicians [he 
wrote] has convinced me of several things with regard to this 
country, i) There is need for a political party which will 
truly represent the people and will have machinery which will 
permit the people to select individuals of their own choice for 
public office. Both existing major parties have too many self- 
seeking racketeers who don't give two cents about the people. 
2) There are too many racketeers among the leaders of or- 
ganized labor. The members of labor unions will never get 
more than the cow's hind tit until they organize and clean 
house in a democratic manner and put in leaders who will 
work in their interests. The only hope for progress in America 
is a strong united labor movement. The bar to such a move- 
ment is the presence in the ranks of labor of many leaders 
who place their own selfish interests ahead of the welfare 
of the people; many of these leaders stand in the way of the 
education of union members which would give them the 
knowledge and understanding of democratic objectives and 

Well, I'm just beefing, Agnes, I burn up when I see people 
stupidly working against their own interests. I burn up, too, 
when I think of all the good guys who went out and got killed 
to protect the rights of a handful of s.o.b.'s to make more 
money for themselves. 

Don't worry about me. I have just got to keep down until 
some of these blood vessels are healed. I know a lot of people, 
including yourself, living with heart ailments for a long time. 
I'm sorry this came to me at this time, but probably some other 
time would have been no better. 


With his friends he tried to joke at his illness, but beneath he was 
bitter and frustrated. The redemption of his vow taken at Saipan 
seemed hopeless now. He thought he had found a way of making 
it good and the way had been taken from him. Not since the loss 
of the Raiders had he felt so utterly helpless. 

But after a while the first shock wore off. He was used to dis- 
cipline and he forced himself to accept the prospect of six months 
to a year of complete rest. In this he was sustained by his wife, 
for with her to help he came to see ways and means of continuing 
his fight and confirming his vow. In a few months he could begin 
to write and talk with people; he could give his name in sponsor- 
ship of those organizations whose aims were the same as his. What- 
ever influence he had could still be used. 

In a few weeks he came to think of his illness as a kind of tactical 
withdrawal forced on him by conditions beyond his control, but 
by no means beyond overcoming in the end. His belief in Ultimate 
Justice had not wavered. He was yet a young man. Destiny must 
still have a part for him to play. 


"Who is this man?" we asked 

If you were to walk into Carlson's room, during his convalescence, 
at his house at Escondido, you would find him dutifully in a bed 
surrounded foot-high with newspapers, magazines, Government re- 
ports, and books. His hair, almost entirely white, is still close- 
cropped. His thin face with its strong jutting nose and Norsk, blue 
eyes seems less thin. The enforced rest has put a little weight on it. 
He greets his friends with perhaps more demonstrativeness than 
ever before, with an arm around shoulders, perhaps with a quick 


clasp a rough, manly embrace. It is almost as if he were eager to 
feel people as well as see and hear them. After a while he might ask 
you to listen to the recording of Earl Robinson's "The Lonesome 
Train," his favorite. Or, if you had heard it the last time you were 
there, he would ask his wife to put on a new Tchaikovsky or Bach 
album. He listens to the music like a child at a circus, reflecting his 
delight with broad expressions on a face which is always quick to 
reveal likes or dislikes. When the music is over, he might talk 
about the latest news, and when he gives an opinion, he invariably 
asks earnestly, "Do you think I'm right?" 

When it comes time to eat, he is at the table. (He's permitted to 
get up several times a day.) The family and guests join hands and 
Carlson, bowing his head, says a grace which his father taught 
him at Peacham. If you have a good joke to tell, you have a perfect 
audience, for Carlson's laugh is quick and full-bodied and loud. 
Nor is he averse to laughing just as loudly at his own jokes. 

If the talk as it usually does turns to public enemies, you 
find yourself startled at the vehemence with which he expresses him- 
self a vehemence combining opinion and a good sprinkling of 
expletives. But the "goddams" sound more like a Jeremiah's curse 
than easy vernacular. 

When the time comes to go, you are thanked for coming in a 
way which makes you feel that you are the giver and not the re- 
ceiver of a great favor,, 

"While we were aware," his father wrote in a letter to the author 
in May 1945, "that all through Evans's life as a soldier, he had done 
conscientious work, the significance of what so suddenly developed 
after Makin was not at once apparent to us. The mushroom, they 
say, does not spring up in a night, but in reality has a long under- 
cover preparation. This seems to have been the case with Evans, and 
the full significance of it has only now come to light. I confess that 
I am rather stunned with the magnitude of his impact upon men of 
many classes, high as well as low. In the nature of the case, this 
only now has come to me . . ." 

Carlson and his wife, Peggy, taken at Universal Studios 
Universal City, California, March 2, 1944 


From Okinawa during a pause in the battle a Marine officer 
wrote a letter to a friend: "Being interested, I have asked around 
about Carlson. Frankly, if you want to hear good things spoken 
about him, you have to ask the enlisted men." 

On May 27, 1946, James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, for- 
warded to Carlson his final and permanent citation for the Legion 
of Merit, given to him for Saipan. In this citation Mr. Forrestal said 
among other things: 

Schooled by grim experience in the art of countering Japa- 
nese strategy, Lieutenant Colonel Carlson . . . defined the 
most effective methods of attacking the objectives. Landing 
on D-day plus i under heavy mortar and artillery fire, he 
immediately volunteered to visit front line units in an effort 
to obtain information and, fearlessly moving into areas where 
the battle raged with savage fanaticism, he repeatedly risked 
his life during the critical days following the invasion. . . . 
Consistently sound in his evaluation of enemy positions and 
strength, he continued his determined efforts . . . persevering 
despite the mounting fury of hostile resistance and providing 
first hand information under increasingly difficult conditions, 
until he sustained serious wounds while engaged in a front 
line reconnaissance on 22 June 1944. A brilliant tactician and 
indomitable fighter, Lieutenant Colonel Carlson rendered serv- 
ices of inestimable value to his Commanding General prior to 
and during the assault and occupation of this fiercely defended 
Japanese base, and his dauntless initiative, outstanding pro- 
fessional skill and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of 
tremendous opposition were important factors in the ultimate 
seizure of the objective . . . 

Yet somewhere in the higher echelons of the Marine Corps, there 
exists a stubborn resentment of Carlson. 

In the official history of the Fourth Marine Division, published 
by the Historical Section of Marine Corps Headquarters, there is 
no mention of Carlson's name on the list of winners of the Legion 
of Merit. In the history of the Fourth Division all the leading staff 
officers are named except Carlson, although he was head of the 


Planning Section which, according to the Fourth Division Com- 
mander, Lieutenant General Harry Schmidt, was a separate staff 
section equal in standing to the other sections. In substance, one could 
read through the entire history of his division and not know that 
Carlson was ever connected with it. 
It is difficult not to conclude that the "brass" dies hard. 

"I can still recall the feeling of exultation I experienced as a 
young man," Carlson told Dr. Dollard of Yale, "when I first read in 
Emerson's Essay on Self -Reliance the lines : 'In every work of genius 
we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us 
with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more 
affecting lesson than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous 
impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the 
whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else tomorrow a stranger 
will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought 
and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our 
own opinion from another.' 

"The point is," Carlson went on, "that this essay of Emerson's 
made me realize for the first time that the potential power to con- 
ceive substantial ideas and to implement them lies within each 
human being." 

Carlson's search through the whole of his life was to find, first, 
a world which would sustain his own confidence in his own ideas 
and his ability to make them work; and, second, he sought for a 
world which would sustain every man's confidence to express the 
rich potential of life. 

Out of all that he has seen and learned, he has come to believe 
that the desire for great wealth and power stands between man 
and his contentment. 

In the life of America Evans Carlson is its real promise. Stum- 
bling, searching, growing out of the bony wisdom of deeds, he 
learned the full measure of the rights of man. He became drunk 
with democracy. 

Evans Carlson is the absolute certainty that men can learn; that 


there is something irrevocably true in our country and in the sources 
of our life. 

If Evans Carlson lived no more than these fifty years he would 
have proved the reality of his own deepest conviction. In 1944, in 
referring to China, he said, "As free men and women we have abid- 
ing faith in the ability of free men to fashion a society in which there 
will be justice, well-being and happiness for all." 

It was for this he fought the war. And for it he will fight in the 
peace for as long as he lives. 

"I'm afraid I have nothing of interest to add to the story of Evans's 
life," Rewi Alley wrote in a letter. "Evans belongs to the next age 
of creative man man who will master his environment and tear 
a new furrow into the unknown. I hope Evans stays longer with 
us all." 



[The following address was given by Lieutenant Colonel 
Evans F. Carlson, U.S.M.C., on the occasion of the first anni- 
versary of the organization of the Second Marine Raider 

One year ago the Marine Raider Battalion came into being, the 
first organization in the history of American armed forces to be 
organized and designed purely for raiding and guerrilla missions. 
Hereafter, this date will be known as Marine Raider Organization 
Day. It is a significant day in American naval-military history. In 
the years to come you members of this battalion who pioneered the 
work; you who proved to the world the value of democratic prac- 
tices in connection with military operations, and who further gave 
proof of the practicability and deep significance of what we are 
pleased to call the Gung Ho spirit; you men will tell with pride of 
your part in this great work. 

Our goal was to create and perfect a cohesive, smooth-functioning 
team which, by virtue of its harmony of action, unity of purpose 
and its invincible determination, would be able to out-point the 
enemy on every count. What were the requisites ? First, the quality 
of leadership. Leaders must invariably be professionally competent; 
they must be honest, especially honest intellectually, admitting their 
mistakes when they make them and endeavoring to correct them. 


It was necessary that officers live close to their men, studying them, 
encouraging them and teaching them not only military technique 
and maneuvers but basic ethical doctrines as well. They must cheer- 
fully and willingly forego those superficial privileges which ordinarily 
insulate officers from their men and impair mutual sympathy and 
understanding. They must share the hardships and privations of 
those they lead and prove by their character and ability their quali- 
fications for leadership. Only in this way could full confidence be 
engendered and a harmony of spirit prevail. The basis of leadership 
must be merit. 

Then it was necessary to so organize tactical units as to enhance 
and perfect team work. We gave to military science the fire group, 
a balanced team which lends itself easily to control even when ad- 
vancing by infiltration. 

Most important, though, was the development of what we call 
the Gung Ho spirit; our ability to co-operate work together. Not 
only was it imperative to understand this spirit; it was even more 
imperative to apply it to daily actions no matter how unimportant 
they might seem. This called for self-discipline and implicit belief 
in the doctrine of helping the other fellow. Followed through to its 
ultimate end it would mean that each while helping the other fellow 
would in turn be helped by him. 

It was in the matter of Gung Ho that we made our slowest 
progress, though progress we have made. We were handicapped 
by our native background, that background in which greed and 
rugged individualism predominated. Human beings are creatures 
of habit. Human nature does not change its coat without a struggle. 
But Rome wasn't built in a day. The important thing was for each 
individual to have the desire to help the other fellow, the desire to 
achieve that mastery over his mind, his body and his desires that 
he might succeed in disciplining himself. This means tolerance of 
ideas, tolerance of personal eccentricities, the sweeping away of per- 
sonal prejudices, concentration on an effort to see the good in human 
beings of all types and persuasions. What a task; what a task! As I 
say, we have made progress, great progress, but we still have a long 
way to go before we attain that degree of perfection which will rid 


this outfit of petty friction and will make us a living harmonious 

Hand in hand with Gung Ho goes the willingness to endure 
hardship and pain in order that the toughest job may be accomplished 
as economically in terms of human life and as effectively in terms 
of exterminating the enemy as possible. This will-to-endure is akin 
to the element of consent in our democratic form of government. 
In this particular application it transcends in importance the element 
of consent in government, because it makes possible the luxury of 
such a form of government. 

Finally, it was necessary to the success of this military pattern of 
ours that individuals understand the reasons for which they fight 
and offer themselves for sacrifice. Hope for glory will carry some 
men a long way in battle; pride in the outfit and the desire not to 
let your buddies down is an even more potent force; but the force 
which impels men to carry on when the going is tough and victory 
appears to be remote is a deep spiritual conviction in the righteous- 
ness of the cause for which he fights and in the belief that victory 
will bring an improved social pattern wherein his loved ones and 
the loved ones of future generations will enjoy a greater measure of 
happiness and well being than was his lot. And so it has been an un- 
failing policy in this organization to articulate for you and con- 
stantly to remind you of the reasons why we endure and fight and 

Let us pause for a moment to re-examine these reasons. Most 
pressing of life's problems are the need for sufficiency in food, clothes 
and cover from the elements. We want the assurance that these 
things will be provided in adequate quantity. Then there is the 
matter of education; we want our loved ones to be educated along 
the lines for which they have an aptitude. When school is over we 
want them to be able to pursue that line of endeavor in which lies 
their heart and ability. We want freedom; freedom to speak our 
minds as long as we do not defame our neighbors; freedom to 
worship whom and where and when we wish; freedom to influence 
the trend of government; freedom and the opportunity to have a 
voice in all those matters which affect our daily lives. We want just 


and sympathetic treatment by all men; we want love and not hatred 
to prevail among men. We want to assure for those who survive 
and for those loved ones to come the inalienable right to life, liberty 
and the opportunity to pursue happiness, each in his own way, so 
long as it does not impair the rights of others. Are these things 
worth fighting for ? Our hearts, our most sacred convictions, tell us 
they are. The knowledge that victory means the realization of these 
things for us cannot fail to inspire and sustain us in those times 
when discomfort, boredom or even death are immediate realities. 
Only by pain and sacrifice can we win the right to these things our 
hearts cherish. 

Perhaps the greatest benefit we derived from that grueling ex- 
perience on Guadalcanal was an increase in faith in the power of a 
Supreme Being or of a Higher Destiny, however you please to 
describe it. We humans are weak in faith. Lack of adequate faith is 
the real cause for our failure to bring the Gung Ho spirit to its 
highest perfection. We lack faith in each other; we lack faith in the 
ability of the human being to grow and change; we lack faith in 
ourselves, our ability to discipline ourselves. Believe me, boys, faith 
can move mountains. Do you suppose these past months since we 
first came together have been without discouragement for me? I 
hesitate to tell you how low my spirits have been at times, or how 
thin my faith has worn. But never has it been completely ex- 
tinguished. Many of you have been a great trial to me, both officers 
and men. But always, even in the darkest moments, my faith in 
your ultimate ability to master yourselves, my faith in your desire 
to do the right thing, has remained with me. My faith in the right- 
ness of the patterns for life and conduct which I have emphasized 
for you so frequently has kept me on the course. And time after 
time you have confirmed that faith. 

Now my hope is that this exposition of our goals and our ac- 
complishments, of the character of our doctrines and the reasons why 
we do what we do, will inspire you to greater effort in the direction 
of making the spirit of Gung Ho your own. When you are on the 
verge of doing something you shouldn't do, ask yourself if it is be- 


cause you lack the power to control and discipline yourself. The 
most painful moments of my life with you are those minutes when 
I am constrained to administer punishment for some thoughtless 
offense. Always I think, "How unnecessary this all is. If this boy 
could only be brought to see the value of self -discipline he would not 
do those things. How can I make him see?" 

I hope also that you will have a deeper understanding of your 
duty to your Country, which means an unfailing effort to see this 
war through to ultimate victory. Your contribution is not one battle, 
or two. No, your obligation to yourself and to those loved ones you 
desire to protect and preserve means that you must have the fortitude 
and patience and determination to drive on until the enemy is 
annihilated and a lasting peace is secured. Yes, I know what you are 
thinking. There are men back home who serve in places of safety 
and where conditions are more comfortable. What a hell of a war 
effort we would make if each jockeyed with the other for the soft 
jobs! We must be honest with ourselves and our convictions. And 
remember this, the right to determine the pattern of life we shall 
have in our country after the war belongs to those who have had 
the courage to suffer pain and privation and who have persistently 
offered themselves for sacrifice. It belongs to such as you. Our job, 
yours and mine, is to see this thing through. By so doing we raise 
ourselves to be peers among men. Ours is the satisfaction of having 
done the job. No one, nothing, can ever rob us of this achievement. 

Remember, too, that those who serve in factories and offices, and 
on the farm back home are also making essential contributions to the 
war effort. We on the firing line could not do our job without their 
uncompromising effort to produce and transport to us the means 
with which to fight. There is such a thing as division of labor in 
war as well as in peacetime production. Each contributes according 
to his ability and his talent; each receives according to his needs. 
Gung Ho is the watchword for not only this battalion, but for all 
units of the armed services and for all those who labor on the home 

Our contribution is to fight and win battles. In your ability and 
willingness to continue to make this sublime contribution I have 


the fullest confidence. May that Supreme Being who has guided us 
with such infinite wisdom in the past continue to watch over, protect 
and guide you, bringing us to victory and a richer fulfillment of 
life's obligations. 



[Excerpts from a speech delivered October 1943, at a congress 
of writers sponsored by the University of California at Los 
Angeles and the Hollywood Writers' Mobilization. President 
Roosevelt, Vice-President Wallace and Wendell Willkie were 
among those who supported this congress. The proceedings 
have been published by the University of California Press, 

There is need for us to refresh our memories on the principles 
which comprise democracy. Especially is there need for us to weigh 
our own actions against these principles. Now that we are political 
and moral missionaries to the world we must make certain that we 
practice the precepts we preach. Are we individually working for 
the welfare of our democratic society as a whole ? Do we accept all 
racial and religious groups as equals? Are we tolerant of ideas, en- 
couraging their expression and choosing from among them those 
which we can apply with benefit ? Or are we unconsciously drifting 
away from that stern sense of justice, that impartial equality, that 
mellow tolerance and that inalienable right of liberty enunciated for 
us by our forefathers? If we are, then democracy is on the skids, 
for these principles constitute its lifeblood. Greed and prejudice; 
intolerance and government by privilege; these are the precepts of 
the Fascists whom we fight. 

Furthermore, we cannot afford to be inconsistent in the application 


of democratic principles within the framework of our society. I have 
been strongly of the opinion, since first I began to reflect seriously on 
our way of life, that it is both incongruous and inconsistent for our 
armed forces to be organized and governed by aristocratic methods. 
For several years I accepted the explanation of recognized military 
leaders that the need for immediate and implicit obedience to orders 
justified the molding of members of armed services into automatons. 
It was obvious to me that obedience, particularly under battle con- 
ditions, must be prompt and complete. Perhaps intensive regimenta- 
tion was essential to gain this end. But no such explanation could 
justify special privilege for leaders. Special privilege invariably in- 
vites self-indulgence. Under campaign conditions in the orthodox 
military setup the quality of living conditions of officers and men 
were practically identical. Why not under all conditions? 

In due time I came to have a better understanding of, and a deep 
respect for, the basic decency, the honesty, and the quality of in- 
telligence of human beings, especially humans constrained to work 
for their livelihood. There came a day when I realized that de- 
mocracy itself was a way of life acceptable to, and workable by, 
only men of good intention, honest men, men of sound common 



[Excerpt from General A. A. Vandegrift's commendation 
to the whole Raider Battalion after Guadalcanal. This was the 
second unit commendation given in the Pacific war.] 

From the operational records of this division it appears that the 
Raider Battalion, while attached to this division, took the field 
against the enemy in early November, 1942. 


For a period of thirty days this battalion, moving through dif- 
ficult terrain, pursued, harried and by repeated attacks destroyed an 
enemy force of equal or greater size, and drove the remnants from 
the area of operations. During this period the battalion, as a whole 
or by detachments, attacked the enemy whenever and wherever he 
could be found in a repeated series of carefully planned and well* 
executed surprise attacks. 

In this latter phase of these operations the battalion destroyed the 
remnants of the enemy forces and bases on the upper Lunga River 
and secured valuable information of the terrain and the enemy line 
of operations. 

In these battles the enemy suffered 400 killed and the loss of his 
artillery, weapons and ammunitions, whereas the battalion losses 
were limited to 15 killed. For the consummate skill displayed in the 
conduct of operations, for the training, stamina and fortitude dis- 
played by all members of the battalion and for its commendably 
aggressive spirit and high morale, the commanding general cites to 
the division, the commanding officer, officers and men of the Raider 


For this book, there are many to whom a debt is owed. 

In all the confusion of American life, the promise and the patterns 
of its hope are frequently obscured, and complete defeats seem more 
common than even partial victories. I am most grateful, therefore, 
to Evans Carlson, for having lived the kind of life which makes an 
American gain heart again, and know that there is an endless in- 
spiration deriving from our common people. Somehow, now that 
this biography is finished, the promises and the hopes are more 
visible than ever before. 

Painfully overcoming his New England sense of privacy and his 
excessive secretiveness, he patiently went through countless hours 
of questioning and analysis. His memory of men and places was 
extraordinarily helpful. He gave me his private papers, orders, diaries 
and manuscripts. More than that, he has examined the facts in this 
book for errors, and if any remain it is no fault of his. All the 
thoughts and dialogue which I have attributed to him, he has con- 
firmed, although he is not responsible for any of my interpretations. 

Enormous help came from Reverend Thomas A. Carlson, who had 
kept all his son's letters from 1912 to 1944. There are about 350, and 
in them Carlson spoke to his father as he might have spoken to him- 
self. For this, and for even more important aid, I have inadequately 
acknowledged my debt to Thomas Carlson in the dedication. 

Mrs. Peggy Carlson an extraordinary woman in her own right 
contributed many insights and apt evaluations. Literally, she has 
given this book bed and board during the countless nights and days 
which I spent at the Carlson home. 

Edgar and Peg Snow helped me formulate the idea for this book 
from the beginning, and I am indebted to them. 

Among Carlson's Raiders who were almost menacing in their 


concern that I tell the truth about the Old Man, I received much 
aid from James Roosevelt, Victor "Transport" Maghakian, Harry 
Reynolds, Tom Jolly, Al Flores and Chris Drake. 

Mrs. Etelle Carlson very graciously filled in many details which 
I could have heard from no other source. Thomas O. Carlson and 
Karen Carlson were also very helpful. Ida Pruitt of the Chinese 
Industrial Co-operatives worked hard to get me information about 
that part of Carlson's China experiences, while Mac Fisher, Colin 
McDonald, Rewi Alley, Joris Ivens, Robert Capa and J. P. Mar- 
quand gave me impressions and information about other aspects of 
Carlson's life in China. 

Lieutenant General Harry Schmidt, U.S.M.C., Major General 
James Ulio, U.SA., Brigadier General Robert L. Denig, U.S.M.C., 
and Captain Warren Goodman, U.S.M.C., were kind enough to help 
me with material and estimates of Carlson's military life. 

I want also to thank Agnes Smedley, Stuart Schulberg, Thomas 
Hermanek, L. H. Mattoon, Arthur Coons, Franklin Fearing, John 
Dollard, Samuel Ornitz, Kurt Lewin and Vera Caspary for their 

To Albert Maltz and George Sklar I herewith offer my gratitude, 
not only for their friendship, but for their encouragement during 
the days when the going was toughest. And, finally, to Donald 
Angus Cameron, my thanks for his criticism and his faith that this 
book, as inadequate as it must inevitably be, would nevertheless 
communicate some of the spirit and substance of Evans Carlson's 

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following publishers 
and authors who have generously granted permission for the use of 
brief quotations of copyrighted books and articles: 

The New Yor% Times Boo\ Review and Nathaniel Peffer; Double- 
day, Doran & Company, Inc., for Vincent Sheean's Personal History, 
the TLastern Underwriter for a letter from Clyde Thomason; Ray- 
mond Swing; John B. Powell; the Marine Corps Gazette for Garrett 
Graham's "Back to Makin"; the Nation and Carleton Beals; Dodd, 
Mead & Company, Inc., for Evans Fordyce Carlson's Twin Stars 
of China; Houghton Mifflin Company for Robert Berkov's Strong 


Man of China; the New Yor^ Herald Tribune; Time Magazine; 
Harbinger House for Henry Misselwitz's The Dragon Stirs; Little, 
Brown & Company for The Letters of William James; Harcourt, 
Brace & Company, Inc., for Hallett Abend's My Life in China, 
1926-1941; Marine Corps Headquarters for Evans F. Carlson's arti- 
cle in the Walla Walla; United Feature Syndicate for Eleanor Roose- 
velt's "My Day"; the Saturday Evening Post for W. S. Le Francois's 
"We Mopped up Makin"; the Hartford Courant for Thomas A. 
Carlson's letter; Random House, Inc., for Edgar Snow's Red Star 
over China and The Battle for Asia; George Sixta for his Rivets 
cartoon in the Saturday Evening Post; Fortune Magazine for 
"Psychiatric Toll of Warfare"; Little, Brown & Company for Ilona 
Ralf Sues's Shares Fins and Millet; Doubleday, Doran & Company, 
Inc., for Nym Wales's Inside Red China; Rcynal & Hitchcock for 
James Lucas's Combat Correspondent; The Blakiston Company for 
Dr. John P. Spiegel's and Dr. Roy R. Grinker's Men Under Stress; 
Alfred A. Knopf for Agnes Smedley's Battle Hymn of China; the 
Portland Telegram; Louis Carrier & Company for Gustav Amann's 
The Legacy of Sun Vat-sen; Duell, Sloan and Pearce, Inc., for 
Robert Sherrod's Tarawa. 


Abraham IJncoln (Carl Sandburg), 133 

Abraham Lincoln Battalion, 9, 325 

Alaska, 1 $ 

Allard, Sgt., 63, 74 

Alley, Rcwi, 280, 361 

Atcamiranu, Pedro, 159 

Amann, Cfuswvc, 140 

American Legion (Oakland, Calif., Post), 


American Veterans* Committee, 352, 353 
Angel* 74 
Anti-Semitism, 89 
Argonaut t 4, 39, 55, 56 
Army and Navy Club, 128, 172, 187 ( 
Associated Press, dispatch of, on Makin, 


Atcheson, George, Jr, 192, 269 
Attu, 38 

Atwood, Bishop, 171 
Augusta, 183 


Bales, Maj. Bill, 290 

Barber's Point, 38 

Bataan, 15 

Battalion General Order No. 5, 34-35 

Battle Hymn of China (Agnes Smedley), 


Beats, Carleton, 158-159 
Beechcr, Henry Ward, 114 
Belden, Jack, 247 
Bender, Dr. James R> 185 
Berkov, Robert, 144 
Bethune, Dr. Norman, 225, 228, 235 
Btuon, T. A*, 269 
Bond, Raymond, 274 
Borodin, Michael, 139* *53 
Bosshard, Walter, 247 
Boston, Mass., 85-86 
Bristol, Adm, Mark L. *47 148, X5 
Brockman, Comdr. William, 39-41 
Brown* Adm* 34 
Brown, John, 12 
Brown, Sam Rodger, 10, 48 
Bulgtr, 345 
Bundy, Gilbert, 324 
Burma, 13 
Burton, Helen, 167 

Butaritari, 39, 42, 64 

Butler, Brig. Gen. Smcdlcy D., 133, 134, 


Cantonese People's Army, 138 

Capa, Robert, 231, 247 

Carlson^ Dana, 78, xou, 114, 116 

Carlson, Dorothy Seccombe, 107, 109, 
118, 146 

Carlson, Etcllc Sawyer, 129-131, 147* 
157 167-168, 170, 266, 289 

Carlson, Evans Portlyce, at Battle of 
Makin, 4, 6, 38, 39, 292; first speech 
to Raiders, 20-23; views on leader- 
ship, 29 (see also Gung Ho, Ethical 
Indoctrination); on prejudices, 32; on 
use of Raiders, 36; Battle Report on 
Makin, 47, 54* 55~56 57, 62, 69, 7J 
Battle of Guadalcanal, 66, 69, 75, 293- 
306; Makin memorial speech, 73~74J 
second Navy Cross, 75; birth, 77 ^ boy- 
hood, 85-94; y icws on anti-Semitism, 
89; Army career, 99-105, 110117; 
marriage to Dorothy Seccombe, 109; 
separation from Dorothy Seccombe, 
u 8, 130; enlistment in Marine Corps, 
121; Officers' School, 123-126; Quan- 
tico, 126-128; Pcnsacola, 131; mar- 
riage to Etcllc Sawyer, 23 1; China 
duty (1927), I36-156; Nicaragua duty, 
159-163; Navy Cross, 166; second 
China duty, 166-170, 176-256 (*w 
also Eighth Route Army); with Chi- 
nese guerrillas, 212-222; resignation 
from Marine Corps, 249-256, 261-268; 
civilian tour of China, 280-284; pre- 
dictions of war, 286; re-enlistment in 
Marine Corps, 287-288; separation 
from Etelle Sawyer, 289; third Navy 
Cross, 307; leaves Raider Battalion, 
316-319; joins Fourth Division, 323 
(see dso United States Marine Corps); 
Battle of Tarawa, 326-331; of 
Kwajalein, 335-336; marriage to 
Peggy Whytc, 336; Saipan, 338-342; 
wounded at Saipan, 340-341; retire- 
ment, 342; on death of Franklin 
Roosevelt, 351; views on labor un- 


Carlson, Evans Fordyce (Continued) 
ions, 356; on politics, 356; Legion of 
Merit, 359; views on democracy, 368- 
369. See also Eighth Route Army, 
Guadalcanal, Makin, Second Raider 
Battalion, Saipan, Tarawa 

Carlson, Evans Charles, 30-31, 146; 
birth, 112 

Carlson, Joetta Evans (mother), 80, 82- 
84* 90, 93-94* ioo H3-"4 I3> 273- 

Carlson, Karen, 78, 94, 100, 265 

Carlson, Matt, 77 

Carlson, Peggy Tatum (Mrs. Evans F.), 
334-346, 349-350* 35i, 372 

Carlson, Thomas (father), 6, 77-82, 84, 
86, 93-94, 96, 113-114 

Carlson, Thomas O., Jr., 78, 94, 100, 114, 

Carlson's Raiders (Second Raider Bat- 
talion), 4, 8, 21-23. See also Makin, 

"Carlson's Raiders" (song), 5, 32 

Carranza, President of Mexico, 108 

Carter, Edward C., 268, 269, 322 

Cassara, Vic, 4, 339~340 

Castle, Vernon, 64 

Chambers, Lt. Col. Justice, 339-340 

Chang Hsueh-liang (Young Marshal), 
178-179, 181 

Chaumont, 134, 136, 138, 139, 141 

Chee "Lai (Chinese song), 231 

Chen Li-fu, 285 

Chennault, Claire, Lt. Gen., 192 

Chiang Kai-shek, Gen., 4, 137, 139, 144, 
177, 178-180, 181, 226-228, 248-249, 
276-277, 284-285, 352 

Chiang Kai-shek, Mme., 180-181, 227 

Chiang Ting- wen, 196, 233-235 

China's Millions (Anna Louise Strong), 

Chinese Industrial Co-operatives, 185, 
281-283, 287 

Chinese Officers* Moral Endeavor Assoc., 

Chou En-lai, 145, 180, 181, 229-230, 

237, 284, 285, 339 
Christianity, 173, 174 
Chu Teh, 145, 146, 177, 188, 198-204, 

212, 213, 237, 339. See also Eighth 

Route Army 
Clark-Kerr, Sir Archibald (Lord Inver- 

chapel), 232 

Clemenceau, Georges, 115 
Clement, Brig. Gen. "Johrmie," 134 
Code, Japanese, 69 
Cook, Sgt. Dallas H., 63 
Coolidge, Calvin, 148, 159 
Coons, Dr. Arthur, 1 6 8, 352 


Corregidor, 103 
Coyte, Capt. Ralph, 39, 345 
Craven, 10, 58-59, 65, 68 
Culebra Island, 130-131 
Czechoslovakia, 32 

DANIELS, 68, 75 

Darrow, Clarence, 86 

Davis, Lt. James, 13, 14, 15 

Debosik, Cpl., 43 

Debs, Eugene V., 86 

Dempsey, Sgt. David, 344 

Denig, Brig. Gen. Robert L., 159, 319- 


Dick, Mr., 153, 155 
Dix, Camp, 113 
"Dollar Diplomacy," 170, 171 
Dollard, John, 3, 26, 325, 360 
Donald, W. H., 181, 191-192, 194 
Donovan, Brig. Gen. William H., 319 
Dorn, Capt. Frank, 232, 247 
Douglas, Helen Gahagan, 354 
Dracut, Mass., 77, 84, 91 
Drake, Chris, 73 
Dreiser, Theodore, 133 
Duffus, R. L., 283 
Durdin, Tillman, 193, 244, 247 

EARLES, I. B., 64, 75 

Edson, Col. Merrit, 310 

Edson's Raiders, see United States Marine 
Corps, First Raider Battalion 

Eighth Route Army, 188, 195, 196-204; 
indoctrination, 23-25. See also Long 

Elliot, Camp, 9, 13, 16, 18, 2728, 290 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 4, 91-92, 95, 
168, 190, 216, 240, 360 

Emmons, Maj. Gen. Delos, 71 

Enright, Ray, 322 

Epstein, Israel, 231 

Escondido (Calif.), 109, 349, 358 

Espiritu Santo, 295, 306, 309, 312 

Ethical Indoctrination, 26, 299; defini- 
tion of, 2425. See cdsQ Gung Ho 

Ethiopia, 32 

Evans, Sgt. Bob, 102, 106 

Evans, Col. Charles, 83 

Evans, Capt. Jack, 84 

Ewen, Jean, 235 

Fear in Battle (Dollard and Horton), 


Feng Yu-hsiang,-229 
Ferno, John, 231 
Field Artillery, i3th, 112; 334th, 5, 113, 

114, 246 
"Fire Teams,** origination of, 14-17 


First Act in China (James Bertram), 195 

Fisher, Mac, 244, 247 

Fitch, George, 193 

Flewelling, Dr., 168 

Florcs, Al, 10, 36, 74, 297-298 

Flores, Jose C, del, 164-165 

Forrcstal, James, 359 

Fort Bliss, Camp, no 

Fortune, 333 

Franklin Bell, 34 

Frenchic, 102 

GALEN, 139 

Gallagher, William, 64 

Gannett, Lewis, 283 

Garrison, William Lloyd, statue o 3, 86 

Gaston, Daniel, 64 

George Washington University, 170, 172 

Germany, in 

Gilbert Islands, 4 

Glassford, Gen. P. D,, 103, no 

Goldstein family, 88-89 

Gonzales, Simon, 161 

"Good Neighbor Policy/' 158 

Goodman, Capt Warren, 372 

Gordon, Dr. George A,, 80 

Graham, Capt. Garrett, 69 

Grew, Joseph C,, 246 

Grinker, Dr. Roy R,, 325 

Guam, 13 

Guadalcanal, 66, 69, 75; Battle, 293- 
306; memorial ceremony, 306-308 

Guardia National, 158, 290? organiza- 
tion of, 1 59. See also Nicaragua 

Gung Ho, 33-33* 49. 79* *&5i 281, 292, 
298, 299* 300, 305-306, 310, 316, 
318, 323 j theory of, 28-29, 312-313, 
363-369. See also Ethical Indoctrina- 

Gung Ho! (moving picture), 323 

Gunther, John* 247 

Gunnan, 74 

N, MAT, Ems, 184 
Haines, Corndr. John, 39> 43 #6, 71 
Hale, Edward Everett, 81 
Hall* Bishop of Hong Kong, 287 
Halsey, Adm, William S., 307 
Hankow, 143, 224-332 
"Hankow Last Ditchers* Club," 347* ^56 
Harris, Moms, 151, 183, 184 
Hartford Cwtrmt, 5 
Harvard University, 86 
Hawaii, 13 

Hawkins, Jessie, 57-5^ $B. 73 75 
Headquarters* Table of Organization, 12, 

13, 16-17 
Hermanek, Thoma* J,, 350 


Hermanek, Thomas J., Jr., 10, 345 

Heywood, Bill, 86 

Hicks, Ashley, 64 

Hill, Charles, 170 

Hill, Col. Charles S., 137 

History Today, 231 

Hogg, George, 247 

Hokkaido, 38 

Holcomb, Lt. Gen. Thomas, 251, 268, 

287-288, 319, 320 

Hollywood Writers* Mobilization, 368 
Holtom, Gerald, 64, 74, 75 
Hong Kong, 13 
Ho Yong-chin, 179, 181, 229 
Horton, Dr. Donald, 325 
Huang, J. L., 193 
Hubbard, Lucian, 322 
Hughes, Charles Evans, 158 
Hull, Cordell, 246 
Hunt, Col. Lc Roy, 134 
Huxley, Julian, 353 

/ Write As 1 Please (Walter Duranty), 

Independent Citizens* Committee of the 

Arts, Sciences and Professions, ,353 
Institute of Pacific Relations, 268, 274, 

286, 320 
Interpretation of Military Ethics (Evans 

F, Carlson), 125 
Itagaki, Gen,, 188 
Ivens, Joris, 231 

JALAPA, 160 
James, Weldon, 193 
James, William, 80, 199 
Jehol, 177, invaded by Japanese, 183 
Jen Peh-hsi, 200, 210; theories on leader- 
ship, 201-202 
Jicaro, 159-163 
Johnson, Harris, 64, 74 
Johnson, Nelson T,, 194* 208, 257-258 
Jolly, Lt Tom, 10, 36 
Jones, Lt Stanley, 136-137 
Jordan, Col, Walter, 343 
Josselyn, Paul, 194* 247 

KAO PI-TZU Gxwo Ho JIN (name for 

Rewi Alley), *e# Alley, Hewi 
Keen, Victor, 247 
Keller, Helen, 353 
Kdiogg, Beth and Orville, 97 
Kerns, Pvt John L. 63 
Keynes, J. M,, 144 
Kiangsi, 177 

King, Henry Churchill, 81 
Knox, Frank C., 34, 75, 16*5* 309 
Krainikov, George, 247 
Kukiang, 193 


Kung, H. H., 155, 229, 258 

Kunkle, Ken, 64 

Kuomintang, 132, 135, 148, 149, 223, 

276; capture of Shanghai, 139-141; 

split, 143. See also Chiang Kai-shek, 

Sun Yat-sen 
Kwajalein, 326, 335-336 


Lamb, Charles, 10, 13, 15, 19, 48, 55, 

56, 68, 75 
Langley, 130 

"Last Ditchers' Club," 193, 247, 256 
Lattimore, Owen, 151, 168 
Lawrence, T. E., 150-151 
League of Nations Association, 278 
Leahy, Aclm. William D., 266-267 
Leathernec^, 147 
Le Breton, Adm., 247, 254 
Le Francois, W. S., 10, 43, 46, 55, 66, 

68, 75, 345. 

Legion of Merit award, 359 
Lenz, 55, 56, 68, 75 
Levene, Sam, 322 
Lewin, Kurt, study of Carlson's Raiders, 


Lewis, Sinclair, 133 
Libby, Frederick, 270-271 
Liberation of American Literature (V. F. 

Calvcrton), 169 
teje> 33> 343 
Lin Tso-hau, 194195 
Lin Yutang, 194 

Li Po, 213, 220, 222 

Li Po-chou, 195, 198-200 

Litvinov, Maxim, 271 

Liversedge, Col. Harry, 134, 310 

London, Jack, 83, 87, 92 

Long March, 178, 199 

Los Angeles Times, 286 

Lucas, Sgt. Jim, 314-315 

Luce, Henry, 281 

Lyman, Maj. Gen. Charles, 170, 265 

MacArthur, Gen. Douglas, 285 
McCabe, Lt, Harry, 343344 
McCafferty, Lt. Col., 346 
MacCracken, Dr. W. B., 6, 56, 68, 70 
McDaniel, Yates, 193, 247 
McDonald, Colin, 186-187, 193, 325 
McHugh, Jimmie, 192 
Maciejewski, Big Ed, 64 
McWilliams, Carey, 352 
Maghakian, Lt. Victor ("Transport")) 10, 

35 45> 60, 296, 303, 345 
Makin, Battle of, 4, 6, 38, 39, 292. 

See also Carlson, Evans Fordyce 


Makin memorial meeting, 72 

Makin Relief Expedition (Japanese), 69 

Malraux, Andre, 136, 145 

Managua, 163 

Manchu Empire, 135 

Manchuria, Japanese invasion of, 177, 


Manila, 13 
Mann, Thomas, 354 
Man's Fate (Andre Malraux), 136, 145 
Mao Tse-tung, 145, 181, 188, 195, 196, 

207, 237, 239; on Gov't, 339 
Marco Polo Bridge Incident, 182 
Marine Corps, see United States Marine 


Marine Corps Chevron, 340 
Marine Corps Gazette, 69 
Marine Corps Hymn, parody of, 142 
Marquadt, Adm., 194, 214 
Marquand, J. P., 168 
Marshall, Gen. George C., 332 
Marshfield, Oregon, 119 
Martin Eden (Jack London), 83, 97 
Mastery of the Pacific (Frank Fox), 150 
Matthews, Camp, 9 
Mauldin, Bill, -354 
Maulding, Robert, 64 
Mauretania, 114 
Mayell, Eric, 247 
Men Under Stress, 325 
Meng Tso-shun, 282 
Merrill, Ken, 10 
Midway Island, 38 

Miller, Lt, Jack, 10, 74, 296, 303, 304 
Miller, Joe, 54, 65 
Millikan, Clark, 281 
Millikan, Robert, 281 
Mills, Jim, 184 
Mills College, 270, 280 
Misselwitz, 1 Henry F., 136, 151 
Mitchell, Gen. Billy, 130 
Molotov, 271 
Monday Club, 168 
Montgomery, Ken, 64 
Mortenson, Norman, 64 
Munich, 32 


Naish, J. Carrol, 322 

Nanking, 191; capture by Chiang Kai- 
shek, 1927, 141 

Nation, 352 

Nationalist Army, see Kuomintang, 
Chiang Kai-shek 

Nautilus, 4, 6, 39, 55, 56, 68 

Navy Cross awards, 75, 166, 307 

Nelson, 10, 74, 345 

Neutrality Act, 173 

New Life Movement, 193 


New V'r4 Herald Tribune, 5, 283 
New Yvrk Times, 5, 185, 283, 308 
Nicaragua, 158, 170 
Nineteenth Route Army, 177 
Niniitz, Adm. Chester A., 36, 37* 3%> 

#9> 7*> 75 75, 295, 332 
Nod land, Frank, 64 

OAHXJ, 35* 3<> 30 
Odgers, Col. Irving, 134 
Olbcrt, Pfc. Richard, 63 
Olivas, Cpl. Vicente, 161, 162 
"Onward Christian Soldiers/' 303 
Overesch, Comdr. Harry, 184, 189, 231, 
249, 255, 263 

PANAMA CANAL, opening of the, 105 

Panay, 141 

Parker Avenue Grammar School, 85, 87 

Paxton, Hall, 192 

Peachum, Vt., 3, 77, 78, 9* 

Pcacham Aca<kmy, 92 

Pearl Harbor, 4, 6, n 

Pearson, Robert, 64 

Peacross, Lt, Oscar F. 10, 13, *5> 4^ 

50, 70, 74, 345 
Pceplcs, Larry, 345 
PefTer, Nathaniel, 207 
Peiptng (Peking), iC>6, 167; Legation 

Guard, 9; raid on Soviet Consulate, 

142; Japanese attack, 184-186 
Pciping Medial College, 168 
Pendleton, Camp, 323, 329-330 
Peng Teh-huai, 214 
Pensacola Naval Air Base, 131, 132 
Perris, Calif.* 106-107 
Pershing, Gen, John J.> 108, 116 
Personal History (Vincent Sheean), 136, 


Pkkett, Brig, Gen. Harry*, 37, 7* 
Pike, Camp, 112 
Pisker, Cpl., 43* 4# 
"Pistol Pete," 298, 301, 305 
Plumley, Capt, David, to, 13, 39> 43 

74 345 

Plymouth, Conn., 157 
Port Orford, Ore 131 
Powell J. B., 150, i7 ^4 
President UcKinlcy, 174* *75 
Pruitt, Ida, 372 
Puerto Rico, 128 
Purple Mountain, 225 
Pyle, Stephen, 168 

QUANTICO, VA,, g, 126, 128, 131 

Red Star 4 Over China (Edgar Snow), 
151, 188 


Reynolds, Harry, 372 
Rixcy, Lt. Col. P. M., 324 
Roberts, Frank, 192 
Robertson, Pvt. Donald, 63 
RobcMm, Paul, 336 
Rockefeller Foundation, 168 
Rogers, Col. Walter, 323 
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 5, 34* 17* 

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 171- 

173-174, 202, 203, 241, 244, 

265, 274-275, 283, 338, 341; 

Japanese Embargo, 277; death of, 
Roosevelt, James, 4, 8, 10, n, 13, *5 

32, 37 43 5-52 61, 64, 310, 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 83, 98, 171 
Roots, Bishop Logan, 228, 233, 272 
Russo-German Non -aggression Pact, 

Io ", 


SAIPAN, 326, 336, 

Carlson, Evans Fordyce 
Sandburg, Carl, 133 
San pie#o, Calif., 9, 15 
Sandino, Augusto, 4, 158 
San Francisco Theological Seminary, 80 
Saturday Evening Post, 45 
Saturday Review of lMeratttrf t 283 
Sayre, Francis B., 171, 285 
Scheidemann, 143 
Schmidt, Maj, Gen. Harry, 323, 337- 

338* 3<> 

Schoficld, Adrian, 345 

Schofield Barracks, 103 

Schwellenbach, Sen. Lewis B., 277 

Schwerin, Capt. Bill, 296 

Schwerin, Capt. James, 122 

Scott, Randolph, 322 

Sebock, 10 

Selby, Charles, 64 

"Self Reliance," 91 

Shanghai, 9, 23, 183, 190; attacked by 

Chiang Kai-shek, X39~^45 
Shanghai Defense Council, 14* 
Shanghai Defense Force, 13 8-139 
Shapley, Lt Col. Alan, 314, 3*5~3i6 


Shapley, Harlow, 353 
Shansi, 23, 178, 222-223 
Sheean, Vincent, 136, 143, 151? 281 
Sheparcl, Maj, Gen. Lemuel C. 171 
Sherrod, Robert, 330 
Shiebler, Sgt, Ellsworth A., 340 
Shoreham, Vt,, 77* 78, 80 
Shoup, Col David, 324* 3^7* 3^9 
Sian, 178, 180-183 
Sickman, Lawrence, 168 
Sinclair, Upton, 133 
Skinner, Col., 288 


Smedley, Agnes, 204207, 208-212, 213, 

228, 229-230, 247, 248, 251, 339, 356 
Smith, Alfred E., 171 
Smith, Maj. Gen. Julian C., 324, 331 
Smuts, Gen. Jan, 115 
Snow, Edgar, 151, 167, 182, 186-187, 

188-189, 229, 232, 247, 325, 336, 338 
Snow, Peggy (Nym Wales), 167, 236 
Solomon Islands, 300 
Soong, T. V., 259 
Spiegel, Dr. John P., 325 
Spruance, Adm. Raymond, 37, 71 
Stalin, Josef, 271 
Standard Oil Co., 135 
"Star-Spangled Banner," 19 
Stephens, Pembroke, 184, 187 
Steele, Arch, 244, 247 
Stigler, Dr. Stephen L., 6, 55, 70 
Stilwell, Gen. Joseph, 232, 247, 253, 292 
Stimson, Henry L., 159, 244 
Stotsenburg, Camp, 103 
Strang, William, 271 
Strong, Anna Louise, 136 
Sues, Ilona Ralf, 224, 228 
Sun Yat-sen, 133, 135, 136, 147, 148, 

176, 191. Sec also Kuomintang 
Sun Yat-sen, Mme., 143, 176, 259-261, 

Swing, Raymond, 299 

TAI-LI, 285 

Taierchwang, 230-231 

Tarawa, 38, 324, 342; Battle of, 326- 


Teheran, 338 
Ten Days That Shook the World (John 

Reed), 151 
Thomas, R. J., 353 
Thomason, Sgt. Clyde, 10, 27, 33-34, 43, 

46, 64, 75 

Thomason, Col. John W., Jr., 265 
Tiemfo, 129, 130 
Time, 5, 246 
Timperley, H. J., 168 
Tinian, 38, 336-337 
' Tobey, Sen. Charles, 353 
Tong, Hollington, 225, 256-257 
Tso Chuan, 200, 212 
Tulagi, 38 

Tungpei, 179, 180, 181 
Tung Pi-wu, 194 
Tunney, Gene, 168 
Turner, Adm. Richmond Kelly, 295 


Twain, Mark, 168 

Twin Stars of China (Evans F. Carlson), 

ULIO, MAJ. GEN. JAMES L., 104, 115 

Underbill, Brig. Gen. James L., 134, 324 

University of Missouri, 151 

United States Marine Corps, First Divi- 
sion, 4; Second Raider Battalion (Carl- 
son's Raiders), 4, 8, 21-23; Fifth 
Regiment, 126; Fourth Regiment, 137- 
138, 149, 151, 154; First Raider Bat- 
talion, 302; Fourth Division, 323, 335, 
336, 359; Fifth Amphibious Corps, 
351. See also Makin, Guadalcanal, Sai- 
pan, Tarawa, Kwajalein 

Urey, Harold, 353 


Vandegrift, Lt. Gen. A. A., 75, 76, 134, 

294, 295, 302, 308, 311 
Vandenberg, John, 64 
Vega, 133 

Vergennes, Vt., 95-96 
Versailles Treaty, 115 
Villa, Pancho, 108 

Vogel, Lt. Gen. Clayton B., 34, 291, 311 
von Seeckt, Gen., 177 

WAKE ISLAND, 13, 38 

Wallace, Henry, 353 

Walla Walla, 149 

Wanger, Walter, 319 

Washburn, Capt. Dick, 299, 303, 346 

Watson, Maj. Gen. Tommy, 134 

Watts, Richard, 247 

Weimar Republic, 132 

Whampoa Military Academy, 145 

Whitman, Walt, 133, 168 

Williams, Adm. C. S., 147 

Wilson, Woodrow, ill, 115 

Wittenberg, Cpl., 43 

Wygal, Samuel, 10, 48 


Yarborough, Mason, 64 

Yarnell, Adm. Harry, 23, 183, 189, 224, 

254-255, 261-264, 268, 336, 345 
Yenan, 3, 178, 235-236 
Yenching University, 167, 168 
Yen Hsi-shan, Gen., 222 
"Young Marshal," see Chang Hsuch- 




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